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EUROPEAN ALUMINIUM: sustainable industrial recovery plan

26 May 2020  by  Rod Janssen

EUROPEAN ALUMINIUM provides a set of recommendations for a sustainable industrial recovery plan




The aluminium industry has traditionally been considered strategic in Europe, however, 2019 data show that primary production in Europe is flat, despite a growing demand for aluminium products in a range of strategic applications. This is due to tensions on the aluminium supply chain caused by trade issues at global level and high European energy prices. Serious excess capacity on global markets, strict EU regulations and challenges in accessing aluminium scrap are exerting additional pressures on the industry. For semi-fabricated products, the growth pace of the European flat rolled products demand slowed down, and there was a decrease in the demand for extrusion products.




There are 15 smelters in the EU, located in ten countries: France, Germany, Greece, The Netherlands, Spain, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia. There are ten smelters in EFTA countries (Norway and Iceland) and one smelter in the United Kingdom. At a global level, China represents about 56 percent of total production. Europe represents about 7 percent of global production, around half of which comes from within the EU.




European  Aluminium  represents  the  entire  value  chain  of  the  aluminium  industry  in  Europe.  Its  industry  is  leading the transition to a climate-neutral and circular economy, sitting at the start of long value chains that are essential for European  citizens:  transport  (40%),  building  and  construction  (30%)  and  packaging  (20%).  




The  COVID-19  crisis  is having a disruptive impact on the industry’s value chain and members’ daily operations, ranging from plant closures due to the lower demand and government restrictions, to a shortage of workers and liquidity problems. The association provided a range of short and medium-long term recommendations for a sustainable industrial recovery plan.




Economic and financial support to re-start the economy




To recover from the crisis, Europe needs to reduce some of the pressure on economic actors, in particular small and medium-sized companies,  both  in  the  short  and  long-term. It  also  needs  to  re-establish  confidence  and  stimulate demand for sustainable products and solutions.




Reinforcing Europe’s strategic autonomy in global aluminium markets




Global competition, especially from China, will ramp-up fiercely in the post-COVID19 world, threatening even more European aluminium producers’ resilience. Maintaining primary and   recycled aluminium production is essential for Europe's raw material sovereignty.




A well-functioning single market and a level playing field




In  daily  business  operations, the industry  sees  that  the  response  to  the  current  crisis  is  not  less  Europe,  but  more Europe, and it starts with our common European market. It is vital to ensure the transportation of essential goods and  flow  of  services  across  our  borders,  such  as  medical,  pharmaceutical,  food  and  energy.  In  this  respect,  they  welcome the European Commission’s initiatives on ‘Green Lanes’ and on the free movement of workers to support the functioning of the Single Market.




A coordinated approach to re-start production under safe conditions




Maintaining the free movement of goods, workers and services under safe conditions should be a cornerstone of the recovery plan.




Final remarks




European Aluminium admits that the aluminium industry is at a crossroad, facing considerable challenges but also tremendous business and societal opportunities. Its Vision 2050 shows potential to decarbonise its production processes along the whole value chain. Vision 2050 is European Aluminium’s contribution to the debate, setting out different scenarios how the sector can contribute to the EU mid-century strategy and outlines the conditions necessary for the sector to realise its full potential for decarbonisation. Total CO2emission reductions will come from increased recycling and a 70% decarbonisation in the primary sector. The association also published its I+ Manifesto, its call to action for EU leaders to set the right framework conditions for the industry to achieve its full strategic potential. It builds on the conclusions of its Vision 2050, European Aluminium’s contribution to the mid-century strategy for a low carbon economy. In April, European Aluminium also provided a letter to EU leaders from the association and its CEOs in order to overcome the extraordinary challenges the COVID-19 pandemic. The industry sector is undoubtedly ready to be part of the solution to the challenges ahead.




EEIP contributes to the Vision 2050 by being project partner of EU funded project RETROFEED with ASAS representing the aluminium sector. Its main objective is to enable the use of an increasingly variable, bio-based and circular feedstock in process industries through the retrofitting of core equipment and the implementation of an advanced monitoring and control system, and providing support to the plant operators by means of a DSS – Decision Support System – covering the production chain.


More about RETROFEED here.


About Rod Janssen

Rod Janssen is the President of Energy Efficiency in Industrial Processes (EEIP). Rod is also member of various Steering Groups and boards such the ICP Europe Steering Group, the SEIF advisory board and the board of ECEEE.

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