MPs suggest nationalization to make Tata Steel cleaner, sustainable
The lower house of Dutch parliament wants the caretaker cabinet to quickly take steps to make Tata Steel operate cleaner and more sustainably. Several parties said that, if necessary, the government should invest money in the steel factory itself, by taking an interest in it. Continuing on the current footing is not an option for any of the parties.
Research by the RIVM recently showed that residents living in the vicinity of Tata Steel are exposed to too high concentration of toxic substances. The steel producer is also the largest CO2 emitter in the Netherlands. The company previously made agreements with the government to reduce emissions, but these do not go far enough for parliament.
VVD parliamentarian Silvio Erkens believes that Tata Steel must quickly switch to green steel production. Minister Stef Blok (Economic Affairs) must investigate the possibilities of paying for this. Erkens called it "crucial for our future employment and prosperity" that this industry is preserved for the Netherlands. He does not want to become dependent on import of steel from China, for example.
Erkens noted that the Indian parent company does not intend to invest any longer in the IJmuiden site. That is why Blok must consult with the company itself and the European Commission, among others, to see how sustainability can be paid for. In the worst case scenario, the government should buy an interest, he believes.
The VVD MP received support on this point from, among others, Joris Thijssen (PvdA). He also envisioned a scenario in which the government, as a shareholder, contributes to making the steel factory in IJmuiden more sustainable. Green steel production is "technically feasible", said Thijssen. But he pointed out that something must also be done about the emission of harmful substances in the short term.
Minister Blok does not think that nationalization is the way to go. Blok emphasized that the government must enforce the rules for safety and public health "indiscriminately". The conclusion may be that a company can no longer operate profitably. Then it is only more complicated if the same government is a shareholder, according to the Minister. "How long do you keep adding extras, and is that better than spending on education or police officers?"
Henri Bontenbal (CDA) also believes that such an investment in shares should be considered by the government. The only alternative is closure and that will cost thousands of jobs. "And the dismantling is not free either," Bontenbal warned.
Tom van der Lee (GroenLinks) was less enthusiastic. He didn't want to rule out public investment, but it's not his first option. He would rather force the parent company to invest itself. "We have not yet exhausted all possibilities to put pressure on Tata," he said.
Reporting by ANP