Driving European competitiveness: Polyurethane industry’s socio-economic contribution

Back to school in Brussels! Going into what appears to be a busy end of the year in terms of the regulatory agenda, discussions between business and EU regulators will focus on a very important issue: The future of the European industry.

Considering the industry accounts for about 15% of economic performance, its importance for the recovery of the European economy cannot be underestimated. Europe’s traditional manufacturing, which of course includes the chemical sector, is one of Europe’s key competitive advantages at global level. Europe is, after all, the world leader in the development of innovative high-quality products.

Industry aligns with regulators´ priorities for Europe’s good

As the Digital Economy Commissioner, Günther Oettinger, described it, “the fourth industrial revolution […] will change all our industries, will change our economy and will change our lives.” In the polyurethane sector we fully align with the Commission’s vision: with 240,000 European   companies   involved in   the process   of   manufacturing, transforming and using polyurethane, of which 85% are SMEs, it is safe to say that our industry at all levels of the value chain plays its part in innovating and investing. This is the best way to prove Europe is still the leader in quality and that our customers deserve the best materials to meet their needs.

However, in order to fully seize the opportunities brought to us by technological innovation we need the support of the policy makers both at EU and national level. According to the European Commission, the modernisation of industry is at the core of some major initiatives such as the Circular Economy Package to be presented at the end of the year and the Internal Market Strategy to be presented in the fall.

European recovery should be based on cost-effective regulation

At ISOPA, we have been vocal supporters of EU initiatives. Nonetheless, as we pointed out in our response to the public consultation on the promotion of the circular economy in Europe, what is of paramount importance to us is that EU regulations are “fit-for-purpose.” A “one-size-fits-all” approach does not account for potential abatement costs sectors could face in implementing regulation and could hold some back in the development of innovative services or materials.

This is particularly true considering that using digital technologies could enable the industry to develop better products for its customers. This is a huge opportunity for European companies. If we manage to “ride this wave” this would lead to more jobs for Europeans and more competitive products on the global market.

The polyurethane industry contributes around €207 billion to the European economy each year: it is a clear ally of a job-rich recovery for the European economy. In turn, going into the “new school year” we are looking to bring the policymakers’ attention to what matters to us: jobs, innovation, and our commitment to sustainability.

Should you have questions on socio-economic impact of the polyurethane industry engage with us on Twitter and visit our website.

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