EU Profile
12 Sep 2013

Summary: The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 28 member states. The EU's origins go back to the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC). Both institutions were established in the early 1950s after the Second World War, in order to prevent Europe from falling into war again by pooling its heavy national industries.


The EU operates through a system of supranational independent institutions and intergovernmental negotiated decisions by the member states. Institutions of the EU include the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank, the Court of Auditors, and the European Parliament. The European Parliament is elected every five years by EU citizens. Most of the EU institutions are located in Brussels, Belgium.

The EU covers over 4 million km² and has 503 million inhabitants — the world's third largest population after China and India. By surface area, France is the biggest EU country and Malta the smallest. (source:

The EU's economy — measured in terms of the goods and services it produces (GDP) — amounted to €12,945,402 million in 2012. The EU's trade with the rest of the world accounts for around 20% of global exports and imports. Trade has been hit by the global recession, but the EU remains the world's largest player, accounting for 16.4% of global imports in 2011. (source:

  • Contact point
  • Name
  • Guy Parker
  • Organisation
  • Cefic
  • Position
  • Manager Energy and Climate Policy
  • Phone
  • +32 2 676 7367
  • Email
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

On average in 2011, the total energy needs of the EU, in terms of gross inland consumption, were covered by the following sources: 35% oil, 24% gas, 17% solid fuels such as coal, 14% nuclear power, 10% renewable sources such as hydropower or wind energy. This mix varies widely across countries (see links below) and evolves over time as a result of their geographical conditions, such as the availability and access to natural resources, national policy choices, such as the decision to make use or not of nuclear power, changing financial incentives, progress in technologies, decarbonisation requirements and the development of the internal market.

World energy demand: outlook


world energy dmand

Source: Source: IEA, World Energy Outlook 2010


EU Gross inland consumption 2008


eu consumption

Source: Eurostat 2010, PRIMES 2009, DG Energy 2013


EU-27 Total Final Energy Consumption (2008) Total = 1168.63 Mtoe


total consumption

Source: Eurostat 2010


Further material:

Energy challenges and policy: Commission contribution to the European Council of 22 May 2013
EU Energy in Figures: Statistical Pocketbook 2013 (European Commission)  

The European chemicals industry is the largest industrial branch and has shown dynamism and innovation over the past twenty years. It produces 20% of the world's chemicals, employs 1.2 million workers and contributes €558 billion (2012) to the EU economy. The EU chemicals industry provides a significant contribution to EU net exports. It is one of the European Union's most international, competitive and successful industries, connected to a wide field of processing and manufacturing activities. The output of the chemicals industry, which includes all 27 EU member states, covers a wide range of chemical products and supplies virtually all sectors of the economy.

Products from the chemical industry are present in the majority of everyday goods and the chemical industry underpins virtually all sectors of the economy. The big industrial customers of the chemical industry are the rubber and plastic converting industry, construction, pulp and paper.

The chemicals sector is very diverse with the millions of products of the chemical industry being categorised into five key subsectors.

Chemical production by subsector in billion € of sales in 2011




Source: Cefic Energy Roadmap 

Over the last twenty years, the EU chemical industry has significantly improved its energy efficiency. Energy efficiency has always been high on the agenda of the European chemical sector given the importance of energy costs. Between 1990 and 2010, energy consumption fell by 20% while production climbed 70% in the same period. This has resulted in an energy intensity decrease (energy use divided by the production index) of more than 50%. Reductions of energy intensity were delivered by improvements in energy efficiency, such as the implementation of combined heat and power as an efficient way to meet the electricity and heat demand of the chemical industry, as well as by continuous process improvements. It should be noted that the steep decline observed can also be partly caused by structural changes within the chemical industry (i.e. a shift to higher value added, lower energy intensive products) and by the use of a value based (albeit inflation corrected) index which is sensitive to elements such as profit margins.

Development of chemical production (index based on value in constant prices), energy consumption & energy intensity (indexed, 1990 = 100)

energy intensity

Source: Cefic Facts & Figures 2012, Eurostat

Despite the substantial increase of 70% in production, GHG emissions have been halved since 1990. The reduction in GHG emissions exceeds the decline in energy use as a result of additional factors which include shifts in the fuel mix towards less carbon intensive fuels (lowering GHG emissions, but not the energy use as such) and also because of a decline in process emissions.

Development of chemicals production (production index based on value in constant prices) and GHG emissions (indexed, 1990 = 100)

ghg emissions

Source: Cefic Facts & Figures 2012, Eurostat

In the chemical industry, fuels are used for a wide variety of applications, both for the use as feedstock for production and energy purposes. In 2010, the total final energy use in European chemical industry amounted to approximately 3,000 Peta Joule (PJ), and total feedstock was about 2,100 PJ. The combined total energy use, including feedstock, is approximately one third of the total industrial energy use in Europe.

Feedstock and energy use by the European chemical industry in 2010

feedstock and energy

Source: Cefic Energy Roadmap

The bulk of the feedstock and energy use in the chemical industry can be allocated to a limited number of key production processes. The steam cracker process to produce the building blocks of the Petrochemical industry, the production of ammonia (the key building block for the fertiliser industry) and the production of chlorine are together responsible for approximately one third of energy use (excluding feedstock use). The energy use by subsectors is shown in the Figure below, dominated by Petrochemical & Basic Inorganics subsectors.

Final energy consumption per chemical industry subsector, 2010

final consumption

Source: Cefic Energy Roadmap

Based on the final energy use figures, the CO2 emissions from the chemicals sector were 235 Mt CO2 in 2010. Energy use on site was the largest source of emissions at 56%, with balance from process emissions and off-site electricity production. The emissions from the EU chemical industry were about 5% of the total EU GHG emissions in 2010.

Overview of GHG emissions from the European chemical industry in 2010

overview ghg emissions

Source: Cefic Energy Roadmap 

The overwhelming majority (99.8%) of enterprises active within the EU-27's non-financial business economy in 2008 were SMEs – some 20.9 million. Together they accounted for two out of every three jobs (66.7%) and for 58.6% of value added within the non-financial business economy.

More than nine out of ten (92.0%) enterprises in the EU-27 were micro-enterprises. Their relative share of the non-financial business economy workforce and value added was considerably lower, at 29.0% and 21.8% respectively. The relative importance of SMEs was particularly high in the southern member states of Italy, Portugal and Spain (no data available for Greece). Some of these differences may be explained by the relative importance of particular sectors in the national economy or by cultural and institutional preferences for self-employment and/or family-run businesses.

Majority of chemical enterprises in Europe have fewer than 50 employees

number employees

Source: EU SMEs in 2012: at the crossroads - Annual report on small and medium-sized enterprises in the EU, 2011/12

Between 10-20% energy savings are possible for individual companies – BUT most SMEs do not control their energy consumption expenses!

Even though energy costs can represent up to one quarter of their total production costs, many SMEs do not view energy efficiency as a priority or are not equipped to set up effective energy management programmes. The main reason is that SMEs often lack financial and human resources to introduce energy efficiency measures. In addition, they are highly diverse and geographically dispersed, making coordinated initiatives challenging to implement. Smaller firms mostly require specific assistance and guidance in order to become aware of the issue and develop the know-how to implement measures leading to a lower energy bill. For this reason, Cefic agreed already years ago that more can be done, especially to help SMEs. This approach was taken up in the EU's High Level Group on Competitiveness, Energy & the Environment negotiations. The CARE+ projects as well as SPiCE³ are concrete results of this dialogue between the industry and the European Commission.

Responsible Care (RC) is the global chemical industry's unique initiative to improve health, environmental performance, enhance safety and security, and to communicate with stakeholders about products and processes.

RC commits companies, national chemical industry associations and their partners to:
• continuously improve the environmental, health, safety and security knowledge and performance of our technologies, processes and products over their life cycles so as to avoid harm to people and the environment;
• use resources efficiently and minimise waste;
• report openly on performance, achievements and shortcomings;
• listen, engage and work with people to understand and address their concerns and expectations;
• cooperate with governments and organisations in the development and implementation of effective regulations and standards, and to meet or go beyond them; and
• provide help and advice to foster the responsible management of chemicals by all those who manage and use them along the product chain.

Throughout the SPiCE³ project period, energy efficiency will step by step become more closely connected to RC. The successful partnership already started with CARE+. SPiCE³ will act even more as a bridge and help to link the traditional RC subjects with energy efficiency area. Overall, SPiCE³ aims at integrating itself into existing initiatives to ensure its maintenance after the 27 months of project duration. By closely connecting both initiatives, energy efficiency will become more established in the Responsible Care program and, eventually, another important pillar next to health and safety. As a first milestone, energy efficiency initiatives by chemical companies will be recognised as part of the industry's annual RC award scheme.

  • Contact point
  • Name
  • Sjoerd Looijs
  • Organisation
  • Cefic
  • Position
  • Manager Responsible Care
  • Phone
  • +32 2 676 7378
  • Email
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Building on CARE+ and existing national initiatives

Cefic has already led one successful project in this area, CARE+, which was supported and funded under IEE from 2006 to 2010. The CARE+ project was launched in three target countries and has been adopted – after the end of the IEE support funding – by six more countries so far. Thanks to CARE+, the network within the European chemical industry has been significantly strengthened to involve more SMEs in the sector's energy efficiency efforts during the past years. SPiCE3 takes all the lessons learnt from CARE+ and various other national initiatives and builds on these to fulfil further improvement needs identified by the sector.

The CARE+ tools will be part of the selection of energy efficiency tools available on the SPiCE3 online platform. Alongside SPiCE3, CARE+ roll-out continues independently as part of the chemical industry's Responsible Care initiative and Cefic's other activities. As CARE+ evolves, any improvements will be fed back into SPiCE3 to enhance the benefits of this tool.

Link to Cefic website


EU Initiatives

For an overview of EU-wide initiatives, please follow this link

Other EU member countries

For a summary overview of other member countries profiles, please follow this link.

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