Brussels – The European chemicals industry has bounced back to pre-pandemic levels but challenging times remain for the sector, according to Marco Mensink, director general of the European chemical Industry Council (Cefic).
“We are encouraged to see that the chemical output is returning to the pre-pandemic levels but… [the] sector is undergoing a ‘double-twin transition’ to meet the European Green Deal goals,” he said in a 26 July statement.
The chemical industry, he went on to say, is asked “to go climate-neutral and circular, and digital, all while navigating the largest chemicals regulatory framework... the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability.”
Mensink said the energy policy reform ‘Fit for 55’ package, which was introduced by the EU earlier this month, was an opportunity to safeguard the chemical sector’s role for the Green Deal through investing in green technologies such as e-crackers, chemical recycling, hydrogen and carbon capture.
According to Cefic, chemicals production across the EU27 increase 5.2% year-on-year in the first four months of the year. In April, chemicals output was 14.3% above the pre-Covid-19 level, it said.
Over the period between January 2020 and April 2021, France lost 7% of its chemical production due to the “spillover effect” of the pandemic, followed by Italy which saw production decline 6% year-on-year. Spain and Germany lost less than 1% of their production during the 'pandemic period', while The Netherlands and Poland seem to have ‘recovered totally’ from the pandemic, Cefic said.
In the short-term, Cefic said the chemicals business climate was 'favourbale' as selling price expectations continue to increase and production expectations approach the levels of January 2018.
According to Cefic, in the month of June, the chemicals industry confidence increased for the seventh month in a row, helped by positive assessments of the current level of overall order books and the adequacy of the stocks of finished products.