Wolfgang Eder has been boss of the Austrian steel producer Voestalpine since 2004. The group operates in more than 50 companies and employs almost 50,000 people, generating revenues of €11.2 billion ($12.4 billion) in 2013/14. It is one of the leading suppliers to the automotive and gas and oil industry.
Mr. Eder is also chairman of the World Steel Association, which represents 85 percent of world steel producers. The industry in Europe is under pressure at the moment as the European Union introduces ever tougher restrictions on pollution, and forces big emitters of carbon dioxide, such as steel producers, to buy emissions permits.
Mr. Eder, the European Commission (the E.U.’s executive arm) wants to make emissions permits more expensive. When will you close down your blast furnaces in Austria?
We are assuming that the fundamental decisions in the European Union concerning environment, climate and energy policies will be made in the next two to three years. We are using this period to make our own decisions about production sites.
That sounds like a threat.
There can be no talk of threats. We’ll do everything possible to keep as much capacity as possible in Austria. Our employees and their know-how are our crucial capital. But if the political establishment creates framework conditions that rob us of our competitiveness and force us to leave, then we have to react accordingly.