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Driving change

In 2021, European Aluminium played a leading role in key EU policy areas, including trade, energy and climate, the circular economy and industrial strategy.

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

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DIGITAL ACTIVITY REPORT

Advocacy

Timeline
Trade

European Aluminium defends the aluminium industry through trade defence case

European Aluminium is actively utilising the EU’s trade defence toolbox to level the playing field in the European market and fight unfair trade practices. With definitive anti-dumping duties in place on extrusions from China for a 5-year period, in 2021 the industry was finally able to readjust to normal market conditions. The European Commission’s investigation into the impact of flat rolled products (FRPs) from China reached very clear conclusions regarding the material injury caused to the European Industry by products that have been dumped on the EU market for years. Although the anti-dumping measures on FRPs are currently suspended until June 2022, we are working through all available avenues to have these long overdue duties implemented as soon as possible, and to ensure that Chinese FRPs enter the European market at fair prices. Trade union federation IndustriAll and EU manufacturing alliance AEGIS EUROPE have joined us to challenge the unjustified suspension of anti-dumping duties on aluminium FRPs from China.

 

 

The impact of global trade policies

Our Trade team works with all stakeholders to manage the effects of different trade dossiers. This includes the US Section 232 deal introducing a tariff quota on imports to the US, which we strongly oppose. We are also actively following, and providing input on, discussions surrounding the Global Arrangement on Sustainable Aluminium, as a possible tool to address carbon intensity and global overcapacity.

Ensuring the EU develops a clear industrial vision for the future to increase its strategic autonomy, continues to be one of our priorities. Unfortunately, the pressing magnesium supply shortage has provided a clear example of what can happen if over-dependencies are not addressed. In relation to preferential trade with key partners, including the UK, we advocate for and monitor the application of robust rules of origin. In addition, with our duty watch cell, we continually work to safeguard our industry’s duty position.

 

Trade containers

Energy & Climate

Our contribution to the European Green Deal & the EU’s climate ambition

Climate change and decarbonisation are top priorities within the European Commission’s Green Deal agenda and new EU Industrial Strategy. Following the release of the European Commission’s ‘Fit for 55’ package in July 2021, European Aluminium’s Energy & Climate Committee has been engaged with the EU’s law-making process.  Our goal is to ensure that the rules transposing the EU’s increased climate ambition are fit for purpose and enable cost competitive decarbonisation across the aluminium industry. The revision of the European Emission Trading System (ETS) and proposed Carbon Border Adjustment Measure (CBAM) are European Aluminium’s  top priorities. We are working towards designing an effective CBAM for the aluminium value chain. These efforts include technical meetings with European Commission officials, EU Member States and Members of the European Parliament, as well as ad-hoc events with policy makers and stakeholders.

Our successful advocacy on the new ETS Guidelines and revised CEEAG.

European Aluminium’s Members successfully contributed to the revision of the post 2021 EU ETS State Aid Guidelines. As a result, all elements needed for the new Guidelines to be transposed at national level were released in November last year and EU Member States can now design their national compensation schemes.  

We also contributed to the revision of the State Aid Guidelines for Climate Energy and Environment (CEEAG). Aluminium is recognised now as one of the sectors most exposed to carbon leakage. As a result, new clauses have been created to limit costs for the most electro-intensive industries and provisions added to enable the cost-effective consumption of decarbonised energy and promote circularity.  

For more information on our advocacy, visit the Energy & Climate section on our website.

Circular Economy

Realising our Circular Aluminium Action Plan

Addressing the objectives we set out in European Aluminium’s Circular Aluminium Action Plan, we will contribute to an upcoming International Aluminium Institute project which will support the ambition to increase aluminium recycling. The project, set to run from Q1 to Q3 2022, aims to identify new market applications for secondary casting alloys. It also seeks to ensure business continuity for secondary castings, identify new potential markets applications, and promote the sector’s limitless potential for recycling.

Continuing our efforts to promote the sector’s solutions for resource efficiency and circularity, we contributed to the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre’s work on scoping end-of-waste and by-product criteria, highlighting the circularity potential of bauxite residue and the potential of aluminium to be infinitely recycled. Both initiatives will be incorporated in the next revision of the European Commission’s Waste Framework Directive, expected in 2023.

Waste Shipment Regulation – striving for equivalent conditions and harmonisation of waste shipment

The European Commission’s long anticipated proposal for the revision of the Waste Shipment Regulation was published in November 2021. The proposal identifies progress in establishing a level playing field for EXTRA-EU shipments and the need to reduce the complexity and administrative burden associated with INTRA-EU waste shipments.

This file is a key priority for the aluminium sector because it can help to ensure a continuous supply of scrap in Europe and maximise the sector’s contribution to the EU’s Circular Economy and Green Deal ambitions.

In recognition of the importance of this file for our sector, European Aluminium has engaged at all levels within the Commission, and we aim to increase our advocacy efforts for the full duration of the negotiating period, which is expected to last between 18 to 24 months. European Aluminium is also cooperating with cross-industry partners, such as Eurometaux, Eurofer, the recycling industry and downstream partners, to enable a holistic framework that can strengthen the transition to a circular economy.

Advocacy on specific legislative files – product policies

In June 2021, European Aluminium responded to the public consultation on the Commission's "Sustainable Products Initiative". This flagship initiative expands the current Ecodesign Directive into a regulation that sets sustainability criteria for products and complements existing product sectoral legislation where needed

We highlighted the intrinsically circular properties of aluminium and emphasised the need for the EU to prioritise 'product-specific over 'multi-product' legislation. European Aluminium pointed out that establishing legislative requirements designed for end-user products that contain multiple materials does not consider the specific sustainability characteristics of materials such as aluminium. Our points were well received, and the Commission's proposal, released in March 2022, stressed the need to avoid duplication.

On a sectoral level, the Commission’s proposals for legislative revisions of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and the End-of-Life Vehicle Directive are expected to be published later this year. As a result, 2022 will be a very important year for positioning aluminium as the material of choice for a circular economy. See here for more information on packaging and mobility-related activities.

Industrial Strategy

Securing an industrial policy for the EU’s strategic autonomy

The European aluminium industry faced critical challenges in 2021, many of which are still relevant this year. Sky high energy prices, combined with shortages in magnesium (an important alloying element), have sharply slowed production, thereby placing our value chain in jeopardy.

Under normal market conditions, electricity represents up to 40% of European primary aluminium production costs. Between October and December 2021, the electricity bills of European aluminium producers increased by over 300%, and now represent more than 80% of today’s aluminium sales price. In addition, due to China’s near-monopoly on magnesium, and efforts by the Chinese Government’s to curb domestic power consumption, supply of magnesium has either been halted or reduced drastically since September 2021. This has resulted in an international supply crisis of unprecedented magnitude.

As a newly appointed member of the EU High Level Group on Energy Intensive Industries, European Aluminium participated actively in outreach by European industries to the Commission on energy prices, resulting in it being made a priority on the EU’s agenda. In parallel, our work on magnesium shortages led to the creation of a focused working group at Commission level, which brings representatives of all Member States together to discuss critical shortages. Together with our members, we continuously engage with EU and national ministries to help design short- and long-term solutions to address the energy price crisis.

External Positioning

Celebrating 40 years of European Aluminium

In 2021, European Aluminium celebrated four decades of industry cooperation, advancement, and commitment to building a more sustainable society. 

To celebrate this momentous occasion, we created a comprehensive anniversary communication initiative consisting of a micro-site, academic paper and magazine charting the development of our industry in Europe and the extraordinary rise of aluminium as a key enabler of a more sustainable society.

Readers can learn how aluminium’s unique combination of attractive properties has become pivotal to the greening of European industry, and how its endless recyclability is central to the circular economy. All the stories told in the anniversary campaign were underpinned by extensive archival research carried out in cooperation with the Institute for the History of Aluminium.  A paper version of our anniversary magazine was distributed to all Members of the European Parliament, European Commission officials, Permanent Representations and other key stakeholders in Brussels and beyond.

 

 

Allies & partnerships in and beyond Brussels

European Aluminium seeks a strong and ambitious EU industrial policy that addresses the competitiveness gap, promotes a global level 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. In 2021, European Aluminium was quoted or referenced in over 381 online articles in top-tier and trade media on a number of topics.

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

Innovation

The Innovation Hub

Making innovation a cornerstone of European Aluminium

Launched in 2015, the Innovation Hub aims to advance the sustainability of the aluminium industry – particularly in the building and automotive sectors – by facilitating collaborative research projects amongst a community of innovative companies in the aluminium value chain. The Hub has made robust progress, and is reinforcing aluminium’s position as an innovative and sustainable sector in Europe. 

At the start of 2022, three companies – Aludium, SPEIRA, and Aluminium Dunkerque - joined the Innovation Hub, which gathers 17 European aluminium companies and two market groups. Two new experts reinforced the Innovation Hub team in response to our growing portfolio of EU projects.

EU Projects

Expanding our portfolio of EU projects

The Innovation Hub is actively engaged in creating synergies, not only through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) like Processes4Planet, Made in Europe or Built4people, but also through EU-funded projects. In 2021, the European Aluminium Secretariat took part in two new EU-funded Horizon Europe projects related to two key markets: Automotive and Building. The first project called SALEMA aims to substitute Critical Raw Materials commonly used as alloying elements (Si and Mg) in automotive applications, or to optimise their recycling from the scrap pool. The second project called METABUILDING LABS strives to unleash the innovation potential of SMEs in the construction sector by lowering the barriers-to-entry for testing innovative solutions in a network of European facilities. In 2021, the Innovation Hub was actively involved in nine collaborative projects, including six Horizon Europe projects. Those projects, which help to promote industrial symbiosis, cover various parts of the aluminium value chain.

EU Projects 2021-2022

Task Forces & Events

Addressing new innovation challenges

In 2021, the Innovation Hub established three ad-hoc Task Forces dedicated to recycling, hydrogen, and waste heat/ energy recovery respectively. Innovation in each of these areas is needed to drive forward the circularity and sustainability profile of the European aluminium industry.

European Aluminium also regularly organises workshops to bring attention to these topics. On 23-24 September 2021, a major online cross-fertilisation workshop, titled “Towards a more sustainable alumina production in Europe”, was organised under the umbrella of the EU’s RemovAl and ReActiv projects. On 17 November 2021, the Hub also organised an internal Workshop on the “Use of hydrogen as an alternative energy carrier for the aluminium industry.” It gathered about 100 participants from European Aluminium’s membership.

Further events are scheduled for 2022, including a webinar focused on “Exploring waste heat recovery potential and technologies for the aluminium industry”.

In addition, the Hub’s Recycling Task Force is working on a study to map innovative scrap preparation technologies. This initiative is sponsored by 12 European Aluminium member companies and is being carried out with the support of a research institute.

 

Aluminia Event

 

Hydrogen Event

 

Sustainability

The Sustainability Roadmap Towards 2025

Mid-term review of the Sustainability Roadmap

The European aluminium industry was one of the very first sectors to publish ambitious and voluntary sustainability commitments in 2015. Our Sustainability Roadmap Towards 2025 contains quantitative and qualitative industry targets for production processes, product management and social responsibility to ensure the sector’s strong contribution to a sustainable future. 

In 2021, we conducted a thorough review of the Roadmap with our members to assess progress towards the targets and identify the next steps and tools required to help reach the industry’s sustainability objectives. The exercise confirmed the aluminium industry’s efforts in establishing a sustainable, decarbonised and circular Europe, and paved the way for even more ambitious targets in a series of areas.

With this in mind, European Aluminium joined the European Pact for Sustainable Industry, a platform created by CSR Europe to help scale up the impact of individual efforts made by companies, industry federations and EU leaders towards a Sustainable Europe 2030.

Decarbonisation

Our commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050

The mid-term review of the Sustainability Roadmap gave the industry the opportunity to look beyond 2025 and establish a longer-term vision aligned to the objectives of the Green Deal. A strategic material in the green transition, aluminium plays an important role in climate-friendly technologies such as renewable energy, energy transition or electrification. To that end, the European aluminium industry also strengthened its own climate objectives by putting the target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 at the core of its sustainability vision.

To deliver this target, European Aluminium will develop pathways for electricity decarbonisation, reducing direct emissions and maximising recycling, as well as creating the conditions for circularity. European Aluminium will work with energy operators, policy makers and other stakeholders to establish an enabling legislative and funding framework that will help translate these pathways into concrete actions. Significant R&D and innovation efforts will be needed to reach this objective. Cooperation and collaboration with other stakeholders, within the aluminium value chain and other sectors will be a crucial success factor for all our sustainability objectives.

 

 

 

Safety platform

Sharing workplace safety best practice

Cooperation is a crucial precondition for achieving ambitious targets at sectoral level, and this is especially true in the context of workplace safety, a fundamental aspect of our Sustainability Roadmap. European Aluminium has a long history of supporting improvements in its members’ safety performance, including through timely safety statistics gathered from our members, joint plant visits and workshops.

To extend and enhance this support, we launched an online "Safety Platform" in 2021. The Platform is completely free of charge and allows the Secretariat and member experts to share expertise and best practice, reports and statistics. The Platform currently hosts about 200 articles, and provides a growing resource on various safety topics starting with the most critical categories, such as molten metal, working from heights, etc. The Platform also allows members to comment on and discuss each new entry with their peers. The initiative's ultimate goal is to help prevent accidents at work.

 

Environment, Health & Safety

The European aluminium industry is committed to responsible stewardship throughout a product's life cycle. This includes operating in a safe, responsible manner and respecting the environment by adhering to high Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) standards. European Aluminium has been working on EHS-related policy and initiatives for over twenty years to help create safer and healthier workplaces and promote global sustainability. In 2021, our work in this field included advocating on the Industrial Emissions Directive and contributing to the water management and material risk assessment. 

Industrial Emissions Directive

Our recommendations for the Industrial Emissions Directive

Ever since the European Commission started reviewing Directive 2010/75/EU on Industrial Emissions, European Aluminium has been fully engaged with this dossier. Recognised as a valued expert, European Aluminium has been invited to participate in numerous European Commission meetings and workshops, and has contributed to every public and targeted consultation to date.

Looking forward, the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) will be a challenging piece of legislation as expectations run high since the Commission issued the Green Deal and the Zero Pollution Action Plan. The original Industrial Emissions Directive involved reworking and amalgamating of seven existing Directives. Today's IED is a comprehensive piece of legislation that is being evaluated because of the permitting process' particularities, making environmental legislation directly applicable without the need to transpose it into the national legislation of EU Member States.

The challenge for policy makers will be to maintain a balanced and neutral approach to determining the Best Available Techniques (BATs) and ensuring that the Emission Limit Values are compliant with what industry stakeholders can realistically achieve. The legislative text is expected to be published between Q1/Q2 2022.

Water management guidelines

Optimising our industry's water management

Water use and management is a key element of production and semi-fabrication processes in industries worldwide. Following recent developments in EU environmental policy, and projections for water availability in potential climate change scenarios, water use and management has now become a top priority for the European aluminium industry.

To help achieve the water management objectives established in the industry's Sustainability Roadmap Towards 2025, European Aluminium launched the "water management guidelines" project in September 2021. The guidelines will provide a set of recommendations that aluminium plants across the supply chain can use to develop and implement on-site water management plans. Some of the topics that the guidelines will focus on are water scarcity, water governance, and alignment between water quality compliance requirements (at regional/national level) and best practices guidance documents (BREFs) produced as an outcome under the Industrial Emissions Directive.  

Environmental classification of lead

Our proposal for an environmental classification of lead

The European Commission will soon introduce a new harmonised environmental classification for lead metal. The last proposal by the ECHA Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) deviated substantially from the metal's current classification guidance (and was not in line with the harmonised classification of other metals). The result is a significant challenge for the metals industry. European Aluminium has been working non-stop with a group of member companies and our network to assess the implications of this regulatory development. 

In light of the Commission's ambition to establish a risk-based chemicals framework, European Aluminium's activities in 2022 will include advocating to maintain a workable approach to metal classification and ensure the implementation of this environmental classification is viable for the aluminium industry.

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Market overview
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Aluminium at work