The chemical industry plays an important role in supporting the European economy and society. Not only does the sector provide jobs and added value, it has been recognised as enabler of a sustainable future by the High Level Group on the Competitiveness of the European Chemicals Industry.
Europe’s chemicals sector will come under increasing pressure in the coming decades, as a result of other chemical production hubs emerging in the world. This, together with increasing globalisation, means it will face greater competition, both at home and on the world market. And that could affect its ability to provide the solutions the world needs. Innovation, regulation, skills needs, energy & feedstock, climate change policy and the EU trade policy have all been identified as key policy areas for action.
Cefic welcomes the recently released European Commission communication - “An Industrial Policy for the Globalisation Era – Putting Competitiveness and Sustainability at Centre Stage” on a comprehensive and integrated European industrial policy, released end 2010. Cefic especially welcomes that the communication placed industry at centre stage to keep Europe economically competitive.
The chemicals sector in Europe particularly appreciates the emphasis on four of the ten proposed key actions for European competitiveness, namely:
- smarter new legislation through explicit and thorough "competitiveness proofing",
- "fitness checks" of existing legislation,
- more robust innovation,
- creating and growing small- and medium-sized companies.
The chemical industry especially appreciates that implementation of such actions provides much needed support in the wake of the great challenges to its competitiveness, especially its rapid loss of global market share during the last 10 years - set to erode further in the coming decade.
As a high tech and valuable part of the value chain process, the chemical industry urges policymakers to implement the initiative as soon as possible. Implementation should take into account :
- the need for a level playing field in a rapidly changing global marketplace,
- a more efficient internal market,
- better skills for future chemicals sector workers,
- greater coordination between the public and private sectors.
An effective and measurable set of results from this initiative could greatly help growth and employment prospects in the European chemical industry.