EU chemicals need stable, strong regulatory framework to grow – execs

Morgan Condon


LONDON (ICIS)–A firmer connection is needed between the EU Green Deal and the bloc’s industrial strategy to support the competitiveness of its chemicals industry, according to executives in the European chemicals industry.

Rene Van Sloten, industrial policy advisor at Europe-wide trade group Cefic, emphasised the importance of this link to meet the EU’s net-zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, 2050 environmental targets.

“There are opportunities [for chemicals in the Green Deal] but in order for European industry to benefit from this it needs to develop solutions for all these problems, not importing solutions from other parts of the world,” said Van Sloten.

He estimated that the chemicals industry would require annual investments between €17-27bn, depending on the level of ambition of making sustainable production a reality.

“We need to keep Europe attractive as investment location. If it is not attractive, other regions will compete for investment, so we need to make sure framework is there,” he said.

Dennis Kredler,  director for EU Affairs at US chemicals major Dow, which runs large production facilities in the region,  said that the EU’s chemicals industry has the potential to become a “game changer”.

He added that, however, any innovation in the industry would depend on public and private funding, something he considered to be challenging due to what he described as unstable regulatory landscape.

“Investment needs as much predictability as possible. You could argue that there is a lot of predictability, many companies in this industry are putting investment plans in place to achieve these outcomes,” said Kredler.

“The challenge is that practically our entire regulatory framework [is currently] under review.”

The EU has stated it aims to renew and upgrade its Reach chemicals regulatory framework, already the strictest in the world; chemicals producers often complain its implementation adds red-tape and a financial burden on their operations.

With issues as diverse yet important as climate change, plant permits, chemicals management, and the circular economy all vying for attention, a unified industrial strategy would help connect the dots and provide a clear path forwards.

Van Sloten and Kredler were speaking earlier this week at Cefic-organised event titled ‘Beyond European economic recovery: How can industry support Europe’s competitive sustainability?’


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