Can you tell us your position, where you are based and what makes working for the aluminium industry special?
I am Senior Vice President and President at Novelis Europe, and I’m based at the company’s European headquarters in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland. In my role, I oversee ten European facilities with an integrated process from recycling to rolling and finishing aluminium rolled products for a number of sectors, including automotive, building, packaging and transportation.
Working for the aluminium industry is exciting because it’s a sunrise industry which offers an ever-increasing range of innovative and lightweight applications to meet changing customer demands and develop new solutions for many diversified sectors. Furthermore, aluminium is a material that is infinitely recyclable without losing its properties and therefore an enabler for achieving Europe’s ambitious climate targets. After having seen 20 years of growth of the aluminium industry, I foresee even a brighter future for this material that is the best fit for developing the circular economy.
What expertise are you bringing to European Aluminium’s EXCOM?
I have worked in the industry for over 20 years now, in 3 different continents, so I’d like to think that I am an industry expert, particularly when it comes to downstream production and markets such as automotive and transport, building, and packaging. I have a degree in engineering and industrial production technologies and expertise in operations, so I will also bring a more technical perspective on the various topics.
You are the new Chairman of European Aluminium. Can you summarise the key challenges for the industry in your terms?
First, as an industry with a strongly interlinked value chain, we are concerned by the unilateral trade measures that seem to be symptomatic of this new trade era. Any unilateral measure will have unintended consequences for our value chains, for our jobs and future investments.
Secondly, stricter climate change and energy regulations mean that European companies face higher compliance costs than in other regions, which affects our competitiveness. The European aluminium industry has been a catalyst for job creation, innovation, and growth, as well as for sustainability and recycling. We need to make sure that the regulatory framework allows us to continue doing so.
Finally, we see a significant amount of aluminium scrap leaking out of Europe, meaning aluminium scrap being shipped outside of Europe instead of being recycled here. This hinders the growth of a circular economy, which strives to retain resources close to the point of use and reuse or recycle and at the same time creates wealth, employment and environmental benefit in Europe.
2019 is not a “business as usual” year for Brussels. Brexit and European Parliament elections are approaching. What would be your message to candidates and leaders of the European Union before this happens?
The upcoming years will be decisive for everyone in Europe. I’d like to stress to policy leaders that an ambitious and strong Europe is only possible with good governance for trade, sustainability, and innovation. We need a holistic industrial policy at the EU level to create the conditions that will allow our industries to shine and Europe to become the most innovative economy in the world.
Can you rank the top five topics of the association for the next five years?
It is impossible to rank five topics in order of importance; they are all equally important to the future of our industry!
Of course, trade will remain an important topic for the association as we deal with unilateral trade measures and other global challenges. Other key topics include sustainability and innovation, which must go hand in hand to achieve Europe’s ambitious climate goals. Our upcoming Vision 2050 report will contribute to this discussion. Circular economy/recycling, climate and energy will be high on our agenda too.
What’s your favourite activity/hobby when you are not working for the industry?
I like sports, skiing in winter and playing tennis in summer are my favourite activities. I also like reading biographies, at least 4-5 every year. Last but not least, riding my bike, a BMW, on sunny days around the lake is a great relaxing moment.
Are you ready to travel more often to Brussels?
Absolutely! I’m already planning a trip to Brussels to meet with the European Aluminium team and a few key policymakers and I’m looking forward to presenting our industry’s perspective on key dossiers.
I will have the opportunity to explain our Industry Plus Manifesto to the future leaders of the European Union. Elections and Brexit are two keywords somewhat linked to uncertainty. Instead, I believe now is the right time to build bridges with the political system to think together on how we make our industry more strategic, more inclusive, more sustainable and more influential. We do have answers to our challenges and politicians will be able to count on us.
And I will gladly invite our new Members of Parliament and other policymakers to visit our plants to get to know our industry firsthand!
Pictured: Emilio Braghi with European Aluminium's Director General Gerd Götz