Driving change

In 2018, European Aluminium was a leading actor in core 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 the industry's two major voluntary initiatives - the Sustainability Roadmap and the Innovation Hub - designed to shape the low-carbon economy in the decades to come.

Panel debate at European Aluminium's event New Industrial Policy: what role for strategic value chains?




Advocacy for Free & Fair Trade

Free and fair global trade is being placed at risk; US tariffs on foreign aluminium under Section 232, Brexit, challenges in implementing of WTO rules and a wave of new free trade agreements between major economies have created a constantly-changing landscape for our members' operations. This is why we are working to strengthen the existing multilateral trading system at European and global levels to address concerns over increasing global excess capacity, which is currently undermining our industry’s viability and competitiveness.

We are concerned by the US decision to use Section 232 measures to impose a 10 percent tariff on aluminium products from Europe from 1 June 2018. Therefore, we welcome the system of surveillance for aluminium imports that the European Commission has put in place in response to this, thus allowing active monitoring of market developments.

However, the EU and the US have announced they intend to strengthen and expand their commercial relations, both through a trade agreement and by cooperating to improve WTO rules and address non-market policies and practices. Our membership views this as a positive step towards removing the US aluminium tariffs.

The review of the rules of origin in the PEM (Pan-Euro-Mediterranean) Convention proved a real challenge for our industry. We advocate for keeping the existing rules of origin for the entire aluminium chapter and not allow for relaxation. With the relaxed proposal, the presence of industry and production processes in a country is removed as a condition to identify a product as originating from that country. This allows third countries to bypass import duties. Our members are hoping for a successful outcome to these negotiations in 2019.

Circular Economy

Closing the loop

In a world of limited resources, reducing waste is vital. Our industry has been a catalyst for sustainability and recycling, working to create a circular economy with infinitely-recyclable aluminium. Currently, 75 percent of all aluminium ever produced is still in use, while recycling aluminium saves 95 percent of the energy needed for primary production. Europe enjoys high end-of-life aluminium recycling rates: over 90 percent in the construction and automotive sectors and 60 percent in the packaging sector.

European Aluminium believes that the EU’s Circular Economy Package offers a solid basis for accelerating the transition from a linear to a truly circular economy further. The Circular Economy Package aims to set clear targets for reducing waste and establish an ambitious and credible long-term approach to waste management and recycling. It includes revisions of the waste directives - Waste Framework, Packaging and Packaging Waste, Landfill, ELVs (‘End of Life Vehicles’) and WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) as well as an Action Plan.

European Aluminium regularly engages with policy makers to ensure that the aluminium industry has an appropriate legislative framework in which to operate. It also seeks to ensure that aluminium recycling in Europe can further flourish and thus benefit the environment.

In June 2018, the European Union finally approved the amended Waste Framework and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directives. Following nearly a decade of often intense lobbying, European Aluminium secured positive outcomes for the packaging and building-related parts of the Circular Economy Package.

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

Energy & Climate

From a vision to implementation: shaping EU’s new decarbonisation agenda

The European Commission’s new strategy to decarbonise the economy will shape the long term scenarios and policies to make Europe a carbon neutral region by 2050. European Aluminium has developed and published a new, extensive and evidence-based ‘Vision 2050’ report.

This report articulates a clear vision for the development of a decarbonised, circular and energy-efficient aluminium value chain in Europe by 2050 and presents three scenarios for the aluminium primary production to fully realise its strategic potential. As the industry looks to further reduce its carbon footprint in all processes from primary production to recycling, comprehensive business model transformations and initiatives embracing robust sustainability and innovation programmes will be crucial. The report also includes an outline of the conditions necessary to ensure that the industry can meet its decarbonisation ambitions.

This overall assessment is linked to our ongoing advocacy efforts in two main topics related to energy and climate, specifically the implementation of the EU ETS Directive for Phase IV (2021-2030) and the upcoming reform of the State Aid Guidelines on indirect compensation. While the ETS remains the cornerstone of the EU’s legal framework for climate change, we are working with our experts to optimise the regulatory implementation to allow us to expand production sustainably. We are identifying numerous technical elements that may affect or stimulate investment in the current smelters and communicating them to policy makers.

State Aid Guidelines & Energy Efficiency First Principle

Our association is also leading the legal campaign on reforming the State Aid Guidelines for the compensation of indirect carbon costs. With a direct impact on the governance of the approved ETS Directive, such a reform will be discussed and agreed in 2019-2020. Our work includes gathering data, positioning, offering alternative proposals for fair and adequate compensation for the indirect costs incurred on CO2 and building appropriate alliances to secure stability and predictability for our electro-intensive industry and downstream players.

European Aluminium is also helping defend the ‘Energy Efficiency First’ principle in the ongoing revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) as part of the Clean Energy Package.

Visit our Building section in the report to learn more.

Industrial Policy

I+Manifesto for a renewed industrial policy

The EU can play an important role in helping prepare industry for these coming changes. This is why the European aluminium industry has created its I+ Manifesto, a voluntary initiative designed to help Europe’s decision makers envisage a renewed, refreshed and dynamic industrial sector in future, promoting action and guiding the debate for the coming political cycle and beyond. The EU needs a holistic industrial policy to create an environment that will allow our industries to thrive and help create the world’s most innovative economy.

The materials processing and manufacturing industries have proved an engine of creativity for Europe, job creation, growth and inclusiveness. However, we now stand at a crossroads. The 4th industrial revolution is already well underway, and Europe faces a choice: to reinvent, becoming leaders and thrive, or to continue with ‘business as usual’ and declining.

Following its public launch in April 2018, our manifesto had a major impact, both in Brussels and in Member State capitals. More than 300 policy makers, stakeholders and individual citizens have shared their positive feedback on our manifesto through our dedicated micro-site. European Aluminium has also secured 25 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 establish the long-term vision for the EU’s industrial and manufacturing strategy.


Feature quotes:

“It’s a great idea to raise awareness on the important role that industry plays for boosting jobs and growth in Europe.”

“Industry in Europe has the knowledge and resources to improve the world if we do so together. Our Industry can help - this must be understood by our politicians!”

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 2017.

In total, European Aluminium appeared in 19 top-tier publications and 115 different trade publications, reaching a potential audience of over 204 million people.

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



1. Boosting Innovation through collaboration

European Aluminium established its Innovation Hub in 2015, to boost collaboration along the value chain and to improve connections between the industry and the EU innovation agenda. The Innovation Hub is our pre-competitive platform, triggering research projects along the value chain, and boosting the industry’s progress along its Sustainability Roadmap to 2025 and tackling pressing R&D challenges,

The Innovation Hub works through a large stakeholder network, which includes policy makers, experts and research institutes, in particular via Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). Most notably, these include SPIRE (Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency), Factories of the Future and Energy Efficient Buildings.

The Innovation Hub is not a closed community; any European Aluminium member is welcome to join. Interested researchers, academics, policy makers, companies and experts are all welcome to become part of our Innovation Hub.


Enabling the flagship EU project: RemovAL

The first EU-funded project facilitated by the Innovation Hub - the RemovAL project - started in May 2018. RemovAL is a four-year Horizon 2020 project on raw materials, supported with €11.5M in EU funding. The primary objective is to use industrial symbiosis and innovative, customised processing routes to convert bauxite residues and spent pot-lining waste into resources such as soil stabiliser, high-performance concrete, lightweight aggregate and blended cement and mineral wool. The project consists of 26 partners, including Mytilineos, Rio Tinto, Alum, European Aluminium and the International Aluminium Institute. For more information, www.removal-project.com

The research leading to these results has been performed within the REMOVAL project and received funding from the European Community’s Horizon 2020 Programme (H2020/2014-2020) under grant agreement n° 776469.


Reinforcing communication and initiating new projects

The benefits and added value of the Innovation hub is can be seen in a series of interviews, summarised in a four-minute video. In addition, European Aluminium has created an animation that shows the major innovations deployed or under development that will make aluminium a key enabler for Europe’s future sustainable society.

Feel free to share this animation, either as part of your own presentations or in your promotional activities.

In close collaboration with the members, the innovation Hub is continuing to initiate and aid collaborative project proposals along the aluminium value chain. The Innovation Hub is a partner in the Horizon 2020 project proposal AlSiCal, which was selected for funding at the end of 2018. This project aims to produce alumina, silica and precipitated calcium carbonate using new mineral resources already abundantly available worldwide. This four-year project, with a budget of €5.9M, will commence in June 2019.

In addition, the Innovation Hub has facilitated the development of an innovative training network proposal called ALURE,“Advanced training on aLUminium structures to enhance Resilience and sustainability in an urban Environment”. This EU project proposal, submitted at the start of 2019, seeks to fund a total of 15 PhDs in eight European universities or organisations.



Connecting aluminium with the UN Sustainable Development Goals

The European aluminium industry’s ‘Sustainability Roadmap 2025’ sets out a programme of ambitious targets and commitments, which extend far beyond legislative obligations. It reflects the industry’s forward-thinking attitude both to embracing change and commitment to action.

In 2018, European Aluminium worked with its members to link the industry’s strategic sustainability ambitions more closely to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030. This is why we partnered with CSR Europe, Europe’s leading business network for Corporate Social Responsibility, to analyse our Sustainability Roadmap 2025. CSR Europe based their feedback on an internal survey, a workshop and interviews with members of the Sustainability Advisory Board. The SDG analysis helped identify eight goals where the aluminium industry should focus to maximise its ability to change and build business opportunities. These goals are aligned with four priority areas that cover the most significant topics for European Aluminium: decarbonisation , circular economy, skills and education and collaboration for innovation.

The final report, and a new infographic have been disseminated to more than 250 stakeholders.


European Aluminium at COP24

European Aluminium was present in Katowice, Poland for the COP24UN climate change conference. During a panel on electro-mobility at the World Climate Summit 2018 - an official COP24 side event - our expert stressed the role of aluminium in the transition to e-mobility, thanks to its unique properties of light weight, strength and durability. They also stressed the ability of aluminium to insulate the battery against external temperatures and to prevent failures and leaks in case of a crash. Lastly, they stressed that aluminium is a permanent, infinitely recyclable, material.


You can read our press release from Katowice here.

Safety Culture

Stepping up efforts on safety

Safety is a fundamental priority for any industrial sector; the aluminium industry is no exception. With this principle front of mind, European Aluminium and its members continued to develop additional initiatives throughout 2018 to support sharing best practices and experience on workplace safety.

We organised thematic workshops, coupled with dedicated plant visits, with experts from all segments of the value chain. They discussed crucial safety challenges including pedestrian safety and management of contractors. In addition, we launched an informal safety coaching system and made efforts to ensure that the leadership of the member companies is engaged in safety issues.

These activities complement the regular meetings of the Safety Task Force of experts, the yearly collection and dissemination of safety statistics and the biannual Safety Workshops focused on preventing fatalities and high-risk incidents. The next Safety Workshop is planned in June 2019 along with the associated ‘Safety Solutions’ competition.



Sustainable Production

Sharing best-practices for a sustainable production

The aluminium industry value chain is composed of a number of diverse steps, each one presenting its own specific environmental challenges and opportunities. EU legislation poses strict objectives in terms of resource use, waste management, airborne emissions and discharges to water; our Sustainability Roadmap adds further voluntary targets to these challenges.

In order to fulfil these ambitions, and to keep the membership fully engaged and up to date on the latest legislative and technical developments, in May 2018 European Aluminium organised a one-and-a-half-day Environment Workshop in Brussels. The event programme covered all main environmental areas; industrial emissions, handling dangerous substances and managing industrial waste. Over 50 experts from the membership took part in an active and open debate both with their peers and with representatives of the European Commission. This dialogue with the institutions is vital for creating a mutual understanding of each party’s respective needs and constraints, thus providing the basis for effective cooperation.

Life Cycle Assessment

Pushing for the right methods and environmental data…

European Aluminium, supported by Eurometaux, successfully finalised its Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) Category rules for metal sheets in 2018. PEF is the major European Commission initiative for harmonising Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodologies and related datasets within Europe. Thanks to our advocacy, the so-called ‘circular footprint formula’ evolved to an allocation rule that supports the ‘end of life recycling approach’ essential for aluminium much more effectively. These category rules are now publicly available for any aluminium sheet producer that wants to assess the environmental footprint of its products.

 In 2019, PEF enters its ‘transition phase’, which mainly aims to assess its ability and adequacy in policy settings. Currently, European Aluminium considers the direct use of PEF for policy purposes as premature, instead of supporting a more robust and fully-harmonised assessment framework. We will continue to monitor this topic and support further refinements of the methodology and data.

Also in 2018, we published our Environmental Profile Report, which provides accurate and reliable European data on the environmental performance of aluminium production and transformation. The launch of the report and our outreach was very successful, achieving more than 1,100 visitors on the webpage, reaching more than 38,500 Twitter impressions as well as 6,000 views of the video, making it the second-most viewed video on the European Aluminium YouTube channel.

In addition, our datasets are in the process of being integrated into major Lifecycle Analysis (LCA) databases, such as eco-invent or Gabi. In 2019, a new project aiming at updating the refining datasets was initiated with the members of the recycling division.

Market overview
Aluminium at work