The European Union is ready to take further action if necessary to counter steel dumping by China, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday, as 10,000 jobs hung in the balance in the sector in Britain.
"The steel industry has problems," Juncker told a sitting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, pledging support for an industry whose plight some Britons have blamed on EU policies as they campaign for Britain to quit the bloc in a June referendum.
Juncker, a long-time premier of major steel producer Luxembourg, described the sector that employs some 360,000 workers across the European Union as a high-technology industry that needed investment and protection.
The European Commission opened three anti-dumping investigations in February into imports of Chinese steel products - seamless pipes, heavy plates and hot-rolled flat steel - and has imposed duties on two further products, cold-rolled flat steel and rebar.
"We are now investigating steel production in China to determine whether it is dumped in the market and we will take other measures if necessary," Juncker told EU lawmakers, without detailing what such measures could be.
Britain is battling to save its steel industry after Tata Steel announced it was putting its British steel operations up for sale, saying this was unavoidable because of a surge in cheap Chinese imports, as well as soaring costs and weak demand.
Juncker, whose father was a steelworker, was for 19 years prime minister of Luxembourg, home to ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steel maker.