§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
The Council marked the very welcome end of the European Coal and Steel Community steel production quota system, which had been in place under article 58 of the treaty of Paris since 1980. The quota system will come to an end on 30 June.
The quota system was introduced at a time of crisis in the European steel industry, but it is clearly no longer suitable for current market conditions. The quota system has prevented the British steel industry from fully exploiting its competitive position in the European market, and the outcome of the Council will therefore be of significant benefit to both United Kingdom consumers and steel producers.
The Council also agreed on the importance of maintaining strict rules on the granting of state aid for steel companies, and on the need for social measures to accompany restructuring.
I am placing a copy of the full conclusions of the Council in the Library of the House.