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Driving change

In 2019, European Aluminium was a leading actor in key EU policy areas, including trade, energy and climate, the circular economy and industrial policy.

In this section, you can discover more about our advocacy activities. You can also learn about two major voluntary initiatives designed by our industry's to shape the low-carbon economy in the decades to come: the Sustainability Roadmap and the Innovation Hub

Ken Ash from the OECD speaks during European Aluminium’s Spring Meetings panel debate on trade

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DIGITAL ACTIVITY REPORT 2019 - 2020

Advocacy

Timeline
Trade

Advocacy for Free & Fair Trade

Free and fair global trade is at risk. The growth of subsidised excess capacity in China, US tariffs on foreign aluminium under Section 232, Brexit, challenges to the implementation of WTO rules, and a wave of new free trade agreements between major economies are constantly changing the business landscape for our members.
As an industry, we are committed to the highest environmental, social and economic standards. That is why we are working at European and global levels to strengthen the existing multilateral trade system; and to address increasing levels of global excess capacity that undermines the viability and competitiveness of our strategic industry.


Our calls to action are as follows:
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  • We advocate for the effective implementation of trade defence instruments for the aluminium industry, that to this day remains largely unprotected from the impact of non-market behaviour and unfair trade practices from China;
  • We encourage the European Commission to find a structural way to address the mass industrial subsidies of the Chinese government, including through the reform of WTO rules and cooperation with trade partners.
  • ­It is crucial for our industry that the EU keeps robust Rules of Origin in any trade agreement it negotiates. The importance of not relaxing rules of origin has been reemphasised by the review of the Pan-Euro Mediterranean Convention.
  • ­Our members perceive the intention of the EU and the US to strengthen and expand their commercial relations, through a trade agreement is a positive signal.  The elimination of Section 232 measures on the European Union, including plans for 232 tariffs on the automotive sector, is an important pre-requisite. The EU is in no way a threat to the national security of the US. 
  • ­The system of surveillance for aluminium imports put in place by the European Commission as a
    response to Section 232 measures allows active monitoring of developments in the market.
Interview with MEP Marie-Pierre Vedrenne

On 5 November 2019, European Aluminium organised the roundtable discussion on “How can the EU address global trade disruptions and the climate emergency while preserving its strategic value chain?” in the European Parliament. On this occasion, French MEP Marie-Pierre Vedrenne expressed strong ambitions for both the competitiveness and sustainability of our industry.

European European Aluminium's DG Gerd Götz on Subsidised Excess Capacity

European Aluminium's Director General Gerd Götz discusses the harmful consequences of subsidised excess capacity.

Energy & Climate

Vision 2050 for a climate neutral aluminium value chain in Europe

In April 2019, European Aluminium released its Vision 2050 report; the aluminium industry’s contribution to the outgoing European Commission’s long-term strategy to decarbonise the European economy by 2050. During the summer of 2019, European Aluminium then established a new Energy and Climate Committee to start implementing Vision 2050 in preparation for the von der Leyen Commission. Her ambition is to make Europe the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050. In parallel, we continued advocacy work on the implementation of the next phase of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) Directive(Phase IV: 2021-2030), the reform of the State Aid Guidelines on indirect compensation (ongoing), and review of the State Guidelines on Energy and Environment (EEAG) (due by mid-2021).

 

Explaining the impact of energy costs to EU policymakers 

European Aluminium, and its members, contributed to two reports authored by Brussels-based think-tank CEPS and funded by the European Commission on ‘The Composition of Energy Prices and Costs in Energy Intensive Industries and ‘The Competitiveness of the Renewable Energy Sector in Europe.’ Both reports provided concrete policy recommendations to the new European Commission and DG Energy on the critical importance of long-term and affordable access to clean energy for the competitiveness of the aluminium industry in Europe. 

Preserving carbon leakage measures and the EU’s plans for a Carbon Border Adjustment 

Towards the end of 2019 and in early 2020, European Aluminium entered a dialogue with EU and national policy makers on the scope and terms of the Commission’s initial impact assessment for an upcoming EU-wide Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) policy proposal. We explained the importance of preserving existing carbon leakage measures given the specificities of the aluminium value chain compared to other envisaged sectors, the high exposure the sector has to indirect costs of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, and the impact of the marginal cost (i.e. the cost required to produce a MWh of electricity) in EU power markets.  

Circular Economy

Closing the loop

In a world of limited resources, reducing waste is vital. Recycling aluminium uses 95 percent less energy than the primary production of new aluminium. To capture these benefits, our industry has become a climate frontrunner advocating for sustainability and recycling and working to cultivate a strong circular economy for infinitely recyclable aluminium. As a result, 75 percent of all aluminium ever produced is still in use today. Europe benefits from high end-of-life aluminium recycling rates with an estimated 55 percent of all aluminium packaging currently being recycled, recycling rates of over 90 percent in the construction and automotive sectors, and 75 percent for beverage cans.

European Aluminium believes that the European Green Deal and its forthcoming Circular Economy Action Plan offer a solid foundation for further accelerating the transition from a linear to a truly circular economy. The EU’s action plan aims to:

  • include a sustainable product policy to support the circular design of all products based on a common methodology and principles
  • prioritise reducing and reusing materials before recycling
  • setup minimum requirements to prevent environmentally harmful products from being released into the EU market
  • strengthen the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes under which a producer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle
  • introduce measures to encourage business to offer and allow consumers to choose reusable, durable and repairable products

European Aluminium representatives regularly meet and brief policy makers to help them ensure that the aluminium industry has an appropriate legislative framework in which to operate. We also seek to ensure that aluminium recycling in Europe can further flourish and thus benefit the environment.

In April 2020, European Aluminium launched its Circular Aluminium Action Plan, a strategy for achieving aluminium’s full potential for a circular economy by 2030. The action plan aims to ensure that all end-of-life aluminium products are collected and recycled efficiently in Europe to maximise aluminium recycling rates and to keep the material in active use. It builds on the aluminium industry’s Vision 2050 and provides policy recommendations for the sector to achieve full circularity.

Visit the building, packaging and recycling sections of our report to learn more about our recycling activities.

Industrial Policy

I+Manifesto for a renewed industrial policy

The economic and political challenges of the new political cycle are huge. Both the new European Parliament and the European Commission must address citizen’s expectations for a renewed Europe. That is why the European aluminium industry has created its I+ Manifesto, a call to action to encourage our new EU leaders to set the right framework conditions for the industry to achieve its full strategic potential. It builds on the conclusions of our Vision 2050 Report – European Aluminium’s contribution to the mid-century strategy for a low carbon economy – which shows the incredible potential of aluminium as a strategic material, enabling carbon neutral and circular value chains. 

Our goal is to contribute to a truly sustainable economy, supporting both the Paris Agreement and the European Green Deal and that delivers the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This requires a deep transformation and renewal of Europe’s existing industrial base and assets. European Aluminium therefore calls for a bold and fully-fledged EU industrial strategy (to be published in March 2020) which is focussed on four main priorities: 

  • Establishing fair and free trade conditions
  • Addressing transition needs for carbon neutrality
  • Fostering circular business models 
  • Investing in the future


Following its first public launch in April 2018, our manifesto had a major impact, both in Brussels and in Member State capitals. The I+MANIFESTO was recognised as the “Best Lobbying or Advocacy Campaign” and won the Gold Award at the 2019 European Association Awards ceremony held in Brussels. More than 300 policy makers, stakeholders and citizens shared positive feedback on the manifesto through its dedicated micro-site. European Aluminium continues to secure meetings with key policy makers at EU and national levels to discuss the principles of the manifesto in greater detail.

We also continue to support the Industry4Europe coalition, which is helping to establish the long-term vision for the EU’s industrial and manufacturing strategy. In November 2019, the coalition released its new Joint Paper on “a long-term strategy for Europe’s Industrial Future: from words to action”, which presents concrete industrial policy proposals in seven priority fields. 

#INDUSTRYPLUS

External Positioning

Building alliances in and beyond Brussels

European Aluminium seeks a strong and ambitious EU industrial policy that addresses the competitiveness gap, promotes a global playing field on trade, environmental, health and safety standards and boosts market demand for the entire value chain. This is why we work with multiple allies. Thanks to our partnerships in Brussels and beyond, we are able to amplify our messaging and increase our political influence.

Allies include (but are not limited to):

Media Highlights

We regularly engage with the media in Brussels and beyond. Our messages were picked up by specialised trade, EU and international media throughout 2019.

In total, European Aluminium appeared in X top-tier publications and x different trade publications, reaching a potential audience of over x million people.

Click on the publication logos to view some of our media highlights.

Innovation

Collaboration

Promoting innovation in the aluminium industry

The first objective of the Innovation Hub is to boost collaboration along the aluminium value chain; the second is to help join-the-dots between the EU innovation agenda, relevant funding opportunities and the aluminium industry. In 2019, the Innovation Hub held its annual workshop at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and SINTEF focusing on digitalisation and modelling for smart aluminium processing, manufacturing and product design. The workshop was co-organised by our member company Hydro and NTNU’s Aluminium Product Innovation Centre (NAPIC).

About 60 experts from aluminium industry, universities and research organisations discussed how automation and modelling are used to produce innovative aluminium components and products.

The Innovation Hub facilitated the collaborative project FORMALUB, which launched in October; this four-year project is financed by four members of the Hub and aims to better understand and predict the formability of Aluminium Body Sheet (ABS).

 

 

EU Projects

Enabling EU projects and proposals for the aluminium industry

The Innovation Hub - in close collaboration with its members - continues to support the development of EU project proposals along the aluminium value chain.

The Innovation Hub is a partner in two Horizon 2020 projects: RemovAl (Removing Waste from Alumina production) and AlSiCal (Towards sustainable mineral and metal industry: ZERO Bauxite Residue and ZERO CO2 from co-production of Alumina, Silica and precipitated Calcium carbonate by the Aranda-Mastin technology). 

These two projects successfully began in 2018 and 2019. RemovAl is a four-year raw materials project aimed at converting bauxite residues and spent pot linings waste into resources. 

The four-year AlSiCal project aims to produce alumina, silica and precipitated calcium carbonate, using new mineral resources, abundantly available worldwide. 

European Aluminium also joined the Erasmus+ project “Skills Alliance for Industrial Symbiosis (SPIRE-SAIS),” which started in January 2020. Industrial symbiosis is the process by which waste or by‐products of an industry or industrial process become the raw materials for another. The main objectives of the project are to identify resource and knowledge gaps and to develop new training resources to support the circular economy and industrial symbiosis among different sectors. 

Thanks to a partnership with MATPLUS, the ALUSELECT database has recently been redeveloped. Launched several years ago, ALUSELECT contains important data on the characteristics and properties of 35 wrought aluminium alloys and 12 cast alloys. Thanks to the new platform, users now have access to many additional tools to help them select the best alloy and temper for any given application.

Communications

Reinforcing communication and networking activities

The Innovation Hub actively communicates and engages with a large stakeholder network including policy makers, experts and research institutes; particularly through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) such as SPIRE (Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency), Factories of the Future and Energy Efficient Buildings.

In 2019, the Innovation Hub intensified its communication activities. In May, the first Innovation newsletter was launched to update readers on its main activities, highlight innovation stories from its members, and report news on related projects, events and proposals. Please subscribe

 The Hub also organised a panel discussion at the Future Aluminium Forum conference in Warsaw, focused on digitalisation and automation for circularity.  In 2020, the Innovation Hub will continue its efforts to communicate openly with the European research community to broaden and deepen the Innovation Hub network.

Sustainability

Safety Culture

Stepping up efforts on safety

A safe workplace is a cornerstone of a sustainable industry, and our sector considers this to be a top priority.

Throughout the year, European Aluminium supported ambitious initiatives to help its members become zero-incidents workplaces. In addition to regular Safety Task Force meetings, coupled with thematic workshops on critical areas of safety, in June 2019 we organised a biannual safety workshop. The event, which focused on the prevention of serious incidents and fatalities, was attended by over 70 experts from the whole value chain, including guests from outside Europe and from other industry sectors. In conjunction with the workshop, the Safety Solutions competition also took place to highlight best practice and innovative ideas. The winners, selected from 44 entries to the competition, were chosen through a secret ballot of workshop participants. Winners of this and previous years’ competitions are listed on the association’s website

Lifecycle Assessment

Promoting aluminium through sound environmental methods and claims

In 2019, the EU’s Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) - a method designed to measure a product’s environmental performance throughout its lifecycle - entered into a transition phase intended to assess whether its measurements can provide an adequate evidence-base for policy decisions and enforcement.  Currently, European Aluminium considers the use of PEF for product policy purposes as premature and supports a more robust and fully harmonised assessment framework. 

Following several exchanges with the European Commission, the PEF metal sheet category rules were published in 2019. In parallel, European Aluminium began monitoring the update of the aluminium background datasets, especially the datasets for primary aluminium alloys and for aluminium beverage cans. Those updated PEF datasets will be published in 2020. 

Considering PEFs potential use to support policies connected to the European Green Deal, European Aluminium will continue to monitor developments closely and will contribute to the technical advisory board meeting and its topics.  

Continuing to develop robust aluminium industry datasets

Following European Aluminium’s publication of the 2018 Environmental Profile Report, the new aluminium datasets covering the environmental impact of Europe’s entire aluminium value chain were well received by the LCA community and other audiences during a successful communications campaign. In 2019 we ensured the inclusion of these datasets into two major Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) databases used by experts around the world (i.e. Gabi and EcoInvent). 

In 2019 we also launched a new project to update the Environmental Profile Report’s dataset for aluminium recycling (i.e. production of casting alloys from scrap). Two major steps of the project (data collection and analysis) were conducted successfully in 2019. The final report and the related datasets are expected by the end of Q2 2020. This project will be complementary to work carried out in 2018. 

We believe that the findings of this new report into aluminium’s environmental footprint will be essential in emphasising the benefits of the aluminium recycling industry in the framework of an increasingly circular economy. 

 

 

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Market overview
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Aluminium at work