In Europe, steel is by far the most frequently used industrial base material. In 2012 the steel mills in the European Union produced almost 170 million tonnes of steel. This compares to plastics production of 58 million tonnes (2011), for example, and 8.6 million tonnes (2010) of aluminium produced in Europe.
A competitive steel industry is of fundamental importance for the competitiveness of European manufacturing industries. The European construction sector, European car makers, mechanical engineering and the appliance industry are among the main customers of the European steel industry. The quality and success of their products, and the degree of innovation with which they can distinguish themselves from other suppliers outside the EU are frequently determined by the quality of the steels that are used. This is why European steel companies and their customers work closely together on research and development (R&D) or simultaneous engineering projects at both European and national levels.
Steel is the backbone of the European manufacturing industries and, therefore, essential for future growth and prosperity in Europe. The material is an integral part, for example of almost every functional module of a modern car. Lightweight steel, developed to save weight, fuel and emissions from cars, is the construction material with the highest growth rate in modern, 21st century car production.
But steel is not only indispensable for future mobility. Other challenges for the European Union, like urbanisation and infrastructure, resource and energy efficiency or energy supply can only be mastered with innovative steel products. The turbines of modern gas power plants, for instance, consist almost 95 per cent of steel. And with new technologies for more efficient power plants coming up, innovative steels will be needed for making new technologies a reality.