Following yesterday’s European Council summit and its conclusions on the measures to tackle the energy crisis, the European textiles industry is extremely concerned about the fast loss of competitiveness of Europe and demands urgent action to save the industry.The chain of factors determining this sharp decline in our competitiveness is twofold. First, the energy cost in Europe is more than 6 times higher than in the US, China, and neighbouring countries. This factor alone has almost erased the business case for producing in the EU. At present, many textiles and clothing companies are producing at net loss or have shut down production. The industrial conditions have worsened in such a way that there is no business case to invest in Europe or buy products produced or processed in the EU. It is only the sense of responsibility of our entrepreneurs towards the European society that is keeping the plants and production running.
Secondly, while the EU is passive and extremely slow in articulating a credible and effective response to the energy crisis, our main international competitors and trade partners (China, India and the US respectively) have developed comprehensive state-aid frameworks for their domestic industry despite not being affected by this crisis at all. The latest example is the 369-billion-dollar scheme of the Inflation Reduction Act rolled out by the Biden administration.
Recent trade data already indicate a loss of global competitiveness: imports to the EU have grown tremendously in 2022 (+35% year-to-date). It is also evident that the surge in imports goes in parallel with the surge of natural gas price. It is expected that energy prices will remain high and volatile, opening the door for imports to gain substantial market shares in the EU.