The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has called for more action to be taken to protect the European glass industry.

The report ‘Glass in Europe at a crossroads’ was adopted by the EESC on the 20th of October 2021, following recommendations from its Consultative Commission on Industrial Change (CCMI 180). The report was then approved in plenary the following day.

The EESC is promoting a greener, energy-efficient glass industry that will enhance competitiveness and maintain quality jobs. It has also welcomed EU policies that will support the glass industry and aid in the transition towards a climate-neutral society.

“The EESC asks EU policymakers to put the glass sector and all its subsectors at the heart of current policy priorities such as the ‘Fit for 55’ package, the Circular Economy Package, the Digital Agenda, the strategic value chains agenda and the EU's international trade policy and associated instruments.”

Rapporteur Aurel Laurenţiu PLOSCEANU, and President of the Romanian Construction Entrepreneurs' Association (ARACO)

Having produced over 36 million tonnes of glass in 2020, the EU is one of the world's largest glass producers, employing approx. 290,000 people. However, the economic downturn and sanitary crisis has had a serious impact on the glass industry. There has been reduced production and a slow recovery for several important glass sectors, such as flat, domestic and fibreglass.

To combat these difficulties, and aid in the green and digital transition in the European glass industry, the EESC requests that an investment in education and training be supported.

“[This will] provide new and young employees entering the sector to supplement the ageing workforce with the necessary knowledge and capabilities, as well as enabling current workers to keep up with innovation and transitional changes in the industry.”

Co-Rapporteur Gerald Kreuzer, Delegate to CCMI by IndustriAll European Trade Union and Responsible for Industrial and collective bargaining policy PRO-GE, Austria

Among the EESC conclusions are:

  • A call upon EU and national policymakers to support the EU's Renovation Wave, which will lead to big sources of business opportunities for glass, triggering investments, while contributing enormously to the reduction of CO2 emissions and to green energy.
  • A recommendation that EU policies support the glass industry in its energy transition, which will ensure that the industry is not exposed to unfair competition from outside the EU market.
  • A recommendation for wider implementation of circular economy principles coupled with public and private financial support and partnerships such as the Close the Glass Loop initiative, to encourage the take-up of glass recycling. This will enable Europe to avoid glass waste, reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions and create new jobs in the glass-recycling sector.
  • A call on the EU to protect glass industries against the risk of carbon leakage. The EESC Committee asks to complement the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) with full benchmark-based free allocation at least until 2030, in line with WTO rules, to strengthen carbon leakage measures.
  • A recommendation that the EU classifies glass as a permanent material.