Our contribution to EU27 industry


Top 10 sectors account for 70% of total EU27 manufacturing enterprises

Top 10 sectors: (EU27+UK) number of enterprises

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There are 2.063 million enterprises in the EU27 manufacturing sector in 2020. Fabricated metal products are the largest sector, accounting for 19.0% of all enterprises operating in the EU27 manufacturing industry, followed by the food industry (12.6%). 10 sectors account for about 70% of total EU27 manufacturing enterprises.

Consumer chemicals accounts for more than 1/3 of total number of  EU27 chemicals enterprises

Number of enterprises in the EU27 chemicals industry: top 10

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There are 29,000 companies operating in the EU27 chemical sector in 2020, accounting for 1.4% of the total number of enterprises in the EU27 manufacturing sector.

Consumer chemicals is the largest sector, accounting for more than one third (37.9%) of all enterprises operating in the EU27 chemicals industry, followed by other chemicals (20.7%), paints and coatings (11.0%), plastics (7.7%) and petrochemicals (6.7%). The top 5 sectors (24,400 companies) account for 80% of total EU27 chemicals enterprises in 2020.

Chemicals is the fourth largest producer in EU27 manufacturing

Top 10 sectors: EU27 turnover (2018)

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Top 10 sectors account for 74% of EU27 manufacturing turnover in 2018. Automotive and food products are the two largest sectors in the EU27 manufacturing industry, accounting for more than one quarter of all turnover (26.6%). With €541 billion, chemicals represent the fourth leading sector, accounting for 7.0% of EU27 manufacturing turnover in 2018.

Turnover comprises the totals invoiced by the unit during the reference period. It includes all duties and taxes on the goods or services invoiced by the unit except for VAT invoiced by the unit to its customer and other similar deductible taxes directly linked to turnover. It also includes all other charges (transport, packaging, etc.) passed on to the customer. Price reductions, rebates and discounts as well as the value of returned packing must be deducted.

Chemicals* is the leading sector accounting for 17.7% of EU27 manufacturing added value

Top 10 sectors: EU27 added value (2018)

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Top 10 sectors account for 81% of EU27 manufacturing added value. The chemical sector (including pharmaceuticals and rubber and plastics) is the largest sector in the EU27 manufacturing industry, accounting for 17.7% of added value.

Value added at factor costs is the gross income from operating activities after adjusting for operating subsidies and indirect taxes. Value adjustments (such as depreciation) are not subtracted.

Petrochemicals has the highest added value in the EU27 chemicals sector

Added value in the EU27 chemicals industry (2020): top 10

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The added value generated in the EU27 chemicals industry amounted to €142.7 billion in 2020. The EU27 chemical industry  is particularly high in added value in five sub-sectors – petrochemicals (€44.9 bn); consumer chemicals (€23.9 bn); other chemicals (€19.0 bn); plastics (€15.8 bn); and paints and coatings (€11.8 bn)

With €44.9 bn, petrochemicals represent the leading sector, accounting for 31.5% of EU27 manufacturing added value in 2020, followed by consumer chemicals (16.7%) and other chemicals (13.3%).

The chemicals* sector contributes to 12% of eu27 manufacturing employement

Top 10 sectors: EU27 number of employees (2020)

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There are 27.7 million people directly employed in the EU27 manufacturing sector in 2020. 10 sectors account for 77% of EU27 manufacturing employment. Food products and chemicals are the two largest sectors in the EU27 manufacturing industry, accounting for more than a quarter of all employment (26.7%).

Chemicals (including pharmaceuticals and rubber and plastics) is the second largest sector (3.4 million people). It contributes 12.3% of EU27 manufacturing employment. The sector generated an even greater number of indirect jobs – up to three times higher than through direct employment.

Number of employees is defined as those persons who work for an employer and who have a contract of employment and receive compensation in the form of wages, salaries, fees, gratuities, piecework pay or remuneration in kind. A worker from an employment agency is an employee of that temporary employment agency and not of the unit (customer) in which they work.

Consumer chemicals is the largest employer in the EU27 chemicals sector

Top 10: number of employees in the EU27 chemicals industry (2020)

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The EU27 chemical industry (without pharmaceuticals and rubber and plastics) is particularly high in number of employees in five sub-sectors – consumer chemicals (283.7 thousands); petrochemicals (206.8 thousands); other chemicals (171.5 thousands); paints and coatings (142.9 thousands), and plastics (129.7 thousands) – all sectors with a significant presence in the EU27.

With 283.7 thousands of people, consumer chemicals represent the leading sector, accounting for 23.7% of EU27 manufacturing employment, followed by Petrochemicals (17.3%) and other chemicals (14.3%).

EU27 Labour productivity grows at 1.5% (CAGR)

Labour productivity in the EU27 chemical industry

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Highly educated and trained employees, coupled with continuously high investments in the workforce, have turned the EU27 chemical sector into a leading industry in terms of high labour productivity.

Between 2014 and 2019, labour productivity in the EU27 chemical industry rose at an average annual rate of 2.1% (CAGR). However, productivity has followed less significant trend during the past three years.

All in all, between 2011 and 2021, labour productivity in the EU27 chemical industry rose at an average annual rate of 1.5% (CAGR)

Chemicals* is the largest investor in EU27 manufacturing

Top 10 sectors: EU27 investment (2018)

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There are 2.03 million enterprises operating in the EU27 manufacturing sector. They invested about €280 billion in 2018. Chemicals (including pharmaceuticals and rubber and plastics) represent the largest investor in EU27 manufacturing, accounting for 17.7% of total investment, followed by Automotive and Food.

Gross investment in tangible goods is defined as investment during the reference period in all tangible goods. Included are new and existing tangible capital goods, whether bought from third parties or produced for own use (i.e. capitalised production of tangible capital goods), having a useful life of more than one year including non-produced tangible goods such as land. Investments in intangible and financial assets excluded.

Petrochemicals is the largest investor in the EU27 chemicals sector

Top 10 : capital spending in the EU27EU27 investment (2018)

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27% of EU27 chemicals investment is attributable to the petrochemicals business in 2020. With €6.4 billion, petrochemicals are the largest investor in the EU27 chemical sector, followed by plastics (15.3%) and “consumer chemicals” (12.7%).

In general terms, the strength of the EU27 petrochemical industry is the high integration of crackers in the chemical value chain in Europe. One of the key challenges facing the petrochemicals business is the EU Commission-led Green New Deal for Europe and the discussion to fully decarbonise the EU economy by 2050.

Gross investment in tangible goods is defined as investment during the reference period in all tangible goods. Included are new and existing tangible capital goods, whether bought from third parties or produced for own use (i.e. capitalised production of tangible capital goods) and having a useful life of more than one year, including non-produced tangible goods such as land. Investments in intangible and financial assets are excluded.

Chemicals* has the largest trade surplus in the European Economy

Top 10 : EU27 trade surplus in the European Economy (2020-2021)

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According to Eurostat trade data, the European economy generated in 2021, a trade surplus of €62.7 billion with non-EU27 countries, far below the €215.8 billion achieved the year before (2020).

With €161 billion, chemicals (including pharmaceuticals) generated the largest EU27 trade surplus in 2021, followed by machinery and equipment (€145 bn), automotive (€123 bn) and food products (€44 bn). Chemicals (including pharmaceuticals) is therefore the leading sector of the European economy in terms of trade surplus.

The analysis shows that EU27 chemicals trade surplus is particularly high in five sub-sectors – pharmaceuticals (€124.5 bn), consumer chemicals (€22.7 bn), other chemicals (€9.0 bn), plastics (€8.9 bn), paints and coatings (€6.2 bn), and crop protection (€4.0 bn).

The European economic sectors which generated a high trade deficit in 2021 are “Crude petroleum and natural gas” (-€249 bn), and “Computer, electronic and optical products” (-€124 bn), Wearing apparel (-€38 bn) and basic metals (-€37 bn).

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