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Sir Ratcliffe warns Europe is “sleepwalking towards offshoring its industry, jobs, investments”

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Chairman and Founder of INEOS, has written to Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, warning that Europe is “sleepwalking towards offshoring its industry, jobs, investments, and emissions.” 

Sir Jim’s letter follows his attendance at The European Industry Summit today in Antwerp, where 73 industry leaders representing almost 20 industrial sectors presented ‘The Antwerp Declaration for a European Industrial Deal’ to Ms Von der Leyen, President of the European Commission and the Belgian Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo.

In his letter to President von der Leyen (see Notes to Editor for a copy of the letter), Sir Jim said:

  • The European chemicals sector “struggles to compete” with other markets such as the  the USA, China, and the Middle East,
  • Carbon taxes have been successful in “driving away investment” from Europe.
  • These taxes have encouraged imports from countries without carbon taxes which has increased the carbon footprint of Europe.
  • In contrast the USA have used the carrot not the stick, which provides half a trillion dollars of government incentives for technologies that improve the carbon footprint of the USA. This encourages investment in cleaner technologies.
  • Once the largest chemical sector in the world, Europe has seen no large builds for 20 years.
  • It is “impossible” to renew Europe’s 30-50-year-old chemical base with cleaner technology, as is happening in the US.
  • There will be “little left” if the European government does not address the high energy costs, carbon taxes and lack of renewal that impacts the chemicals sector in Europe.

Sir Jim points to first-hand experience of the flawed European approach:

  • INEOS demonstrated its faith in European chemicals with its €4bn investment in the building of a new petrochemicals facility in Antwerp.
  • The facility is superior to any other comparable petrochemical facility worldwide in terms of carbon emissions and has 10,000 workers employed on the project.
  • The permit was pulled away and withdrawn one year after it was granted, due to its nitrogen emissions, the equivalent of one family barbecue in a nature reserve once a year.

In May 2014, Sir Jim Ratcliffe wrote to the then President of the European Union Jose Manuel Barroso, expressing his deepest concerns about the future of the European chemical industry. Sadly, many of his fears have subsequently been proved correct as the industry now finds itself in the current situation.

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