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Factsheet for measure EU-2020-51/1752 – measures in European Union

Trade unions' opinion on the EU Chemical Strategy

Country European Union , applies eu-wide (or beyond)
Time period Open ended, started on 18 December 2020
Context COVID-19, Green Transition
Type Non-binding recommendations or other texts
Category Reorientation of business activities
– Change of production/Innovation
Author Barbara Surdykowska and Eurofound
Measure added 02 February 2021 (updated 05 February 2021)

Background information

The Chemical Strategy for Sustainability was published by the European Commission on 14 October 2020. This was a result of the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown Europe's dependence on the import of a range of essential chemicals for domestic production, in particular drug production. Therefore, the strategy aims to reduce this dependency by providing open strategic autonomy with resilient value chains.

According to the European Trade Union IndustriALL, implementation of the strategy will have the greatest impact on the production, processing, management, reuse and discharge of chemicals since the introduction of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) legislation. Therefore, the strategy must be formulated and shaped with careful assessment of the socio-economic impact.

Content of measure

IndustriAll Europe supports the aim of phasing out most harmful substances for non-essential societal use, but calls for a mindful process of defining “essential” and “non-essential”. Trade union also warns that terminology such as “toxic-free environment” creates wrong expectations. In many cases, the toxic properties of substances are their very asset. Sanitisation for example, so important in the battle against the spread of the coronavirus, would be impossible without “toxic” substances.

IndustriAll Europe agrees with the Commission’s analysis that chemicals are the building blocks of low carbon, zero pollution and energy- and resource-efficient technologies, materials and products. The green and digital transitions of our economies and societies depend on the innovative capacity of the chemical(s) industry.

However trade union expresses its surprise that the role of workers is virtually absent from the strategy. Therefore amongst key demands for the improving of the strategy is an encompassing impact assessment of the potential effects of the strategy’s elements on employment, on the people who research, produce, process, manage, etc.; and solutions for possible negative impacts.

Use of measure


Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Applies to all workers Sector specific set of companies
Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
EU (Council, EC, EP)
No special funding required

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative No involvement
Form Any other form of consultation, institutionalised (as stable working groups or committees) or informal Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Unknown
  • Main level of involvement: EU level


The own opinion of leading EU-level trade union in the sector. Reaction of emoloyers' organizations unknown up to date.

Views and reactions

Trade unions support their own opinion.

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      C - Manufacturing C20 Manufacture of chemicals and chemical products

This case is not occupation-specific.



Eurofound (2021), Trade unions' opinion on the EU Chemical Strategy, measure EU-2020-51/1752 (measures in European Union), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.