Research and innovation key to competitiveness of chemicals industry
European Commission - IP/07/1960 19/12/2007
Brussels, 19th December 2007
To maintain the world leading position of the European chemical industry various measures should be taken, like a strengthening of innovation networks, increasing the spending in Research and Development (R&D), a better developing of human resources and improving information and communications. These measures are proposed in a first set of recommendations, done by the High Level Group on the Competitiveness of the European Chemicals Industry, yesterday at a meeting. The chemical industry is currently facing unprecedented challenges to maintaining competitiveness. The challenges include coping with increasingly costly energy and feedstock (mainly oil and gas), helping to mitigate global environmental pressures in particular from climate change and facing strong competition from emerging countries (e.g. China, Middle East and Russia). The chemicals industry is well placed to bring solutions to these problems and to exploit new opportunities. It provides innovations to most other industries and is a key component of value chains that end with the great majority of consumer products. To help the industry to overcome the present challenges and to exploit related opportunities, the High Level Group (HLG) however has made these first recommendations.
Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy said: “Europe must retain a strong manufacturing base in chemicals, not only because of its own huge contribution to wealth and jobs, but also because of its ability to generate innovations throughout industry as a whole. We need to promote innovation and competitiveness to ensure that the chemicals industry will always have a strategic placer the EU’s economy.”
Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik, who chaired the specific session of the High Level Group dedicated to research and innovation, said: "The future of the chemicals industry in Europe will depend ever more on its ability to innovate. Research plays a huge role in that. We are working with industry in a variety of ways to promote investment in research. Today's meeting will be another piece of the puzzle, which once completed will show a picture of a high performing, innovative and competitive chemicals industry in Europe."
The overall purpose of the HLG on the Competitiveness of the European Chemicals Industry, set up on 14 June 2007 by the European Commission, is to conduct a sound economic and statistical analysis of the factors determining the rapid structural change in the chemicals sector, and the competitive position of the European chemicals industry.
At its meeting on 18 December 2007, the HLG underlined that the numerous examples of best practice show that Europe’s chemicals industry and its strong research infrastructure are capable of meeting the innovation challenge. To address the challenges the sector is faced with, the HLG has formulated a first set of recommendations:
1. Strengthen innovation networks
2. Increase quantity and effectiveness of research and development:
3. Developing our human resources should start in primary schools
4. Improve information and communication