What the EU referendum means for Tata Steel

Thrybergh Mill, Tata steelworks in Rotherham.   Picture Tony Johnson
Thrybergh Mill, Tata steelworks in Rotherham. Picture Tony Johnson

Tata Steel has written to all of its employees setting out its position on the referendum.

Here is the statement in full:

The UK will be going to the polls on 23 June to decide about its relationship with the European Union. Many people have been asking what Tata Steel’s position is on the topic.

As for all Tata enterprises, Tata Steel has political neutrality as one of its core principles. However, the relationship between the UK and the European Union is very relevant for the company.

“The European Union influences very important aspects of Tata Steel’s business in the UK,” says Tim Morris, Head of Public Affairs for Tata Steel in Europe. “The EU is by far our largest export market, with over a third of our UK steel heading there. And that’s not including the steel that goes via our customers – the EU is a critical export market for the UK’s car makers for example. So access to that market is fundamental to our business.”

One of the preconditions for this trade is that EU laws and regulations are followed. “These include critical regulations that impact our business – environmental controls and antidumping rules to name but two,” says Tim. “But if the UK were to exit the EU and we set these rules ourselves, it is likely we would still need to adhere to EU rules to enter that market. The difference: we would no longer have a say in how they are set up or applied.”

The EU does not only take, it also gives. “The EU is a source of cash for the UK business – funds for environmental improvements, infrastructure development and R&D,” Tim points out. challenging steel market conditions ever seen.”

“This demonstrates what’s possible when all parties work together,” said Hans. “As we continue the sale process for the whole of Tata Steel UK, the sale of Long Products Europe shows how vital it is that we all continue to work hard on turning around the various businesses in the UK. If we all contribute to the transformation plans and focus on the things we can control in our area, I believe we can learn from the example that Long Products Europe has set.”

During a transition period Tata Steel That’s one of the reasons for support for remaining in the EU from groups such as the CBI, EEF, TUC and individual trade unions. The trade union movement is also stressing the role of the EU in protecting workers rights. But there’s plenty that needs to change too. “There’s definitely scope for major improvement for how decisions are made in the EU and less bureaucracy,” says Tim. “And one of the key obstacles that the UK Government states in its inability to do more for the steel sector in the UK are the EU ‘state aid’ rules that aim to set a common standard for how governments support industries. Plus there will be non-economic factors that each of us will have to make our minds up on – controls on immigration for example.”

Ultimately, says Tim, it’s a choice for the individual, but one that deserves careful thought. “You may be a Brexiteer or you may be a Bremainer. But either way the choice you make on 23 June will make a difference to your working life.”