Brussels red tape threatens to strangle a British-led campaign to compensate stainless steel users forced to pay artificially high prices while European Union producers of the material allegedly ran a cartel in the mid-1990s.
In a letter to EU industry commissioner Martin Bangemann, the British Cutlery and Silverware Association had asked for some of the £18m in fines levied on six European producers to be repatriated to cutlery manufacturers.
Bangemann has told the trade association that the fines will be returned to EU coffers. Bangemann said: ‘Those who feel aggrieved must take up the matter on a national level.’
According to John Price, the association’s chairman, this effectively entails ‘an enormous amount of work with little result’.
Price will nevertheless take the campaign forward to a Federation of European Cutlers congress in May.
‘If there is a common view by other European manufacturers to pursue the matter at national level, we will probably pursue the campaign,’ he said.