(Adds Chinese reaction)
BRUSSELS, May 24 (Reuters) - The European Commission has opened an investigation into hot-rolled steel sheet piles imported from China to determine whether they are being dumped in Europe, according to a notice in the EU Official Journal on Thursday.
The investigation into a form of steel used in construction was launched following a complaint by EU steelmaker group Eurofer and could bring fresh measures against Chinese steel, increasing tensions between Beijing and Brussels.
The European Union already has 17 sets of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures in place on various grades of steel.
Brussels has tended to say sectoral problems are chiefly the result of overcapacity, particularly in China. China's Commerce Ministry said a global economic downturn was the root cause of difficulties for the steel industry.
"Recklessly adopting trade restrictions will not help to solve the problem," said Wang Hejun, the head of the ministry’s trade remedy and investigation bureau, adding they would also harm EU steel users.
The Journal said the complaint was lodged on behalf of three manufacturers making all of the product in the EU, later listing them as ArcelorMittal subsidiaries in Luxembourg and Poland and Vitkovice Steel of the Czech Republic.
The complaint says exports from China have increased significantly at prices that are artificially low.
Corrugated sheet piling is a steel segment used in construction, which represents 35 percent of total steel consumption. It is principally used for building foundations or retaining walls. (Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels, Tom Daly in Beijing Editing by Alastair Macdonald and Gareth Jones/Adrian Croft)