The chemical industry could help pave the way to a sustainable and successful Europe in 2050

Europe's World

Citizens' Europe

Picture of Marco Mensink
Marco Mensink

Director-General of Cefic

The new political framework, set out by the European Union’s Strategic Agenda and Political Guidelines, has set bold priority areas for the next five years. In preparation for the new policy cycle, Cefic, the association for the European chemical industry, has launched its ‘Mid-Century Vision’ which paints a plausible path towards a prosperous, more sustainable Europe in the year 2050.

As digitalisation revolutionises our lives, Europe will need to grasp digital opportunities within safe and ethical boundaries, filling a skills gap for much-needed jobs. As climate change transforms our planet, Europe aims to reach zero pollution, a circular economy, net neutrality, and more, through its ambitious Green Deal. And as global politics, trade and economies are becoming increasingly fragmented, Europe will have to build a strong and vibrant economic base, equipped with an industrial policy fit for the future, while stepping up investments in skills and education.

As set out by the ‘Mid-Century Vision’, Europe will need to define its own ‘European Way’ forward; one which capitalises on its unique strengths by offering European solutions to global challenges and helps the chemical industry blaze a trail for European industry.

The outreach and scope of this sector is far-reaching; employing 1.2mn highly qualified people directly in 28,000 companies

The ‘European Way’ means putting the protection of human health and the environment at the centre of the political agenda. It also means leading on new societal and industrial models while aiming for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The circular economy should reach a point wherein almost everything that can be recycled will be recycled. Waste should be converted to new raw materials, right here in Europe. Digitalisation must be embraced and accompanied by heavy investments in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals – and its successors – need to be at the core of European politics and business models.

The European chemical industry has an important role to play in helping Europe achieve its highly-ambitious political goals.

The outreach and scope of this sector is far-reaching; employing 1.2mn highly qualified people directly in 28,000 companies, it supports around 19mn jobs across all supply chains. It supplies the fundamental building blocks to almost every other industry, with technologies that can drive exponential innovation.

The European chemical industry shares the same goals and fundamental values as most people

What’s more, the chemical industry has the potential to create greater economies of scale and make efficient use of raw materials, by collaborating with other industries to form state-of-the-art clustered assets in Europe. The potential is huge, but must be supplemented by cooperation with other actors.

The European chemical industry shares the same goals and fundamental values as most people: a world that is cleaner, healthier and more inclusive, a world in which the transition to climate neutrality is fair, and in which Europe – and the European chemical industry – remain global leaders.

We will need to work together with governments, industry and society at large, to find the best answers to our common challenges. Building a future for all will require the participation of all.

Content supported by Cefic.

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