European Standards support the Transition Pathway for the chemical industry

The chemical sector is a pillar of the EU economy. According to the European Commission, it accounts for 7,5% of the EU manufacturing turnover, provides 1,2 million direct highly skilled jobs, and its sales amount to €565 billion (2018). As recently stated by Kerstin Jorna, Director General at DG GROW, the chemical industry is at "the beginning of everything", meaning that it is key to many other sectors for manufacturing their products.

Nonetheless, this important industry is currently facing significant challenges: among them, the access to raw materials and energy, the stability of the value chains, and the competition from external markets. Furthermore, the chemical sector is the largest industrial energy consumer and the third largest industry subsector in terms of direct CO2 emissions, according to data from the IEA (International Energy Agency).


To tackle these challenges and contribute to greening Europe’s chemical sector, on 27 January 2023, the European Commission published its Transition Pathway for the chemical industry. This important document was developed together  with Members States, the chemical industry, NGOs and other stakeholders.


The Pathway is a concrete and actionable plan, meant to foster the EU chemical industry’s green and digital transitions, while making it more resilient. It is articulated over eight “building blocks: Sustainable competitiveness; Investments and Funding; Support to R&l, techniques and technical solutions; Regulation and public governance (legislation); Access to energy and feedstock; Infrastructure; Skills; and Social. Each one of them is defined by topics, list of actions, timeframe for their implementation, and the main actors responsible.


As two of the official European Standardization Organizations, CEN and CENELEC are active in many of the topics mentioned in the document. We believe that European Standards are a major tool to facilitate the green and digital transitions of the chemical industry.


To mention some ongoing activities related to the green transition in the chemicals sector, CEN is developing standards in support of circular value chains (see the Standardization Request on circular plastics) and of the use of organic and waste-based fertilising products.


The Pathway also refers to the "importance of high-speed and reliable digital infrastructure, such as digital platforms to make possible the exchange of information on chemicals". Beneficial for many sectors – including chemicals – will be the new standardization activities expected to take place in 2023 following Standardization Requests issued by the European Commission, in support of the Data Act, the Data Governance Act, and the Digital Product Passport.


Through the first two activities, new standards, specifications, and guidelines will be developed to facilitate the interoperability of data, data processing services and data spaces. Furthermore, the Digital Product Passport will make product information accessible to stakeholders along the entire value chain, to help consumers make informed choices, allow other actors such as repairers or recyclers to access relevant information, and enable competent national authorities to perform their duties.


CEN and CENELEC are committed to maximising the potential of standards to help Europe achieve its priorities, such as the twin digital and green transitions. For this reason, we are ready to work together to make the ambitions of the Transition Pathway for the chemical industry a reality.

To know more about CEN and CENELEC’s future activities  in the Chemical sector

You can discover the dedicated section of our Work Programme 2023 and you can watch our dedicated #SectorTalk video.



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