Europe's chemical industry faces extinction in 10 years


The European chemical industry could soon go the way of the dinosaur, Jim Ratcliffe, chairman of Ineos, the UK’s largest chemical producer, has warned. In an open letter to José Manuel Barroso, president of the European commission, Ratcliffe predicted that most of Europe’s chemical industry will close in the next 10 years thanks to the high cost of energy and feedstocks.

Ratcliffe compared the European chemical industry with the textiles industry in the 1980s, where cheap labour in Asia led to the demise of this industry in Europe. He also noted that gas in the US costs a third of that in Europe, thanks to a cheap energy boom fuelled by shale gas, while the Chinese are set to become net exporters of chemicals. ‘I can see green taxes, I can see no shale gas, I can see closure of nuclear, I can see manufacturing being driven away,’ he said, asking where the initiatives to back Europe’s chemical industry were.

Ratcliffe’s comments echo those of Hubert Mandery, director general of the European Chemical Industry Council. Mandery also recently warned that Europe’s climate change policies were saddling industry with higher cost than their competitors, who were already benefitting from cheaper energy. ‘Energy and climate policy must be affordable,’ he said. ‘Undermining Europe’s competitiveness leads straight to de-industrialisation.’


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