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"I see great prospects for aluminium"
How can, how should the European aluminum industry act in the current situation? ALUMINIUM asked Rob van Gils, President of Aluminium Deutschland, a few questions during the fair.
ALUMINIUM: Mr. van Gils, how would you describe the current situation of the European aluminum industry?
Rob van Gils: It is serious, I would say. That's obvious, because this energy madness is really putting our competitiveness at risk. And this is something that the industry alone cannot solve. So we need political support and solutions, because at the end of the day we have to realize that we are competing on a global level and we don't want European industry to go broke. We have to somehow get a grip on this situation for European society.
Some people are talking about deindustrialization in Europe. Is that a possible worst-case scenario?
van Gils: That would be the worst case scenario, of course. If we keep the high energy prices, it would put us out of competition and many materials would come from outside Europe. That would increase our dependencies, and we are just learning what such dependencies do to us. Industry is an essential part of our future, and it's needed for the transition we're facing.
"We have to somehow get a grip on this situation for European society."
Is there anything the aluminium industry itself can do now?
van Gils: Yes and no. Problems like high energy prices cannot be solved by the industry itself, of course. We can do more to promote recycling, but we are already at the forefront of that. If you look around here at the show, you'll see that all the companies are really focused on that. Then you see that we're already doing what we can. But the solution to high energy prices will no longer be recycling.
The material is considered one of the perfect materials when it comes to recyclability and sustainability. But that doesn't seem to be the number one issue these days ...
van Gils: I don't think it will be forgotten, but we have to be realistic: Right now, we really have to put security of supply first. That also means that, as a first step, it will be necessary to ensure that we have enough energy available. In doing so, we will also have to draw on resources that we don't like to use. But sustainability will remain a very important issue for us, I have no doubt about that. The Green Deal is in place, and I don't see anyone backing away from it. We just have to be smart about it so that we don't completely lose the competitiveness of the industry.
Is there a contribution that an event like this fair can make?
van Gils: Of course, the trade show is still an important platform for us. Here we meet all our customers and can show them our efforts. Here we exchange ideas with our competitors in the market and can learn from each other. Of course there is competition, and that is important, but our strongest competition is in other materials.
There will come a time after that, and I see great prospects for aluminium. So yes, the show is a very important platform for us to show what we can contribute.