Refining Forum

The European refining industry continually called on the European Union to provide the regulatory predictability that would favour investment.

The EU Refining Forum dates back to 2012, when stakeholders – Member States, MEPSs, the EU refining industry and trade unions – gathered to discuss the difficulties faced by the sector, and called for coordinated action. The forum provides an opportunity to talk about regulatory proposals that could have significant impacts on the industry and on the security of supply of petroleum products in the EU.

In the period 2008-2014 some 17 refineries shut down in the EU, adding up to an 8% capacity decline and the loss of some 10,000 direct and 40,000 indirect jobs. Nevertheless, the latest 6th Refining Forum recognized the economic and social value of the European refining sector and called for a continued review of the Fitness Check and its use in assessing the cumulative impact of existing and upcoming legislation.

This 6th Refining Forum organized by DG ENERGY, in March 2016, attracted a record of 140 participants, including Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Arias Cañete; MEP Elisabetta Gardini; strong Member States representation and Yiannis Boutaris; the Mayor of Thessaloniki, where refining is an important part of the local economy.

During the meeting, speakers and participants stated that the European refining industry also has great economic value, providing skilled jobs throughout the EU. However, EU refiners work under tougher regulations than their overseas competitors. In order to invest and plan for the future, they need a regulatory environment that is stable and not overly burdensome.

Thus, a competitive legislative framework is an essential condition to encourage investment. While companies are used to managing certain types of uncertainty – such as changes in the market, evolutions in technology and the broader competitive landscape – they depend on a predictable legislative framework.

If such framework is lacking, it discourages investors / investments and puts the EU at a disadvantage with respect to regions of the world where industries enjoy a stable and predictable, and less stringent regulatory framework. For these reasons the 6th Refining Forum called for a regulatory environment that takes account of the European industry’s high innovation capacity, as well as a global level playing field with regards to climate policy.