Landscape of the European Chemical Industry 2020

Landscape of the European Chemical Industry 2020




€65.7 billion

Number of companies


Capital spending

€2.1 billion

Direct employees


National contact

Federación Empresarial de la Industria Química Española (FEIQUE)

Juan Antonio Labat

Director General



Chemical industry snapshot

Now Spain’s second-biggest industry

In 2018 chemicals, including pharmaceuticals (but excluding plastics and rubber products), became the second largest industry in Spain, accounting for 13,4% of manufacturing gross product. It generated value of about €20 billion on sales of €65 billion – outpaced only by the massive food, beverages & tobacco industry.


The chemical industry continues its consolidation as one of the key sectors in the Spanish economy. This sector comprises over 3,300 companies with a turnover of over 65,7 billion euros and generates 670,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs. The Spanish chemical sector is a key sector in advanced economies, hence in the Spanish economy. Its activity directly and indirectly generates 5.8% of the national GDP, and it employs 3.5% of the active occupied population.


Furthermore, the quality of the employment results in high tax contributions by the companies and workers in the sector, as their income tax and social security payments account for over 20,000 euros per employee per year. Two factors continue to be crucial for the future of the chemical industry: its export capacity and its innovative leadership. In the first case, the sector is now the economy´s second-largest exporter, and 57.5% of its production goes to foreign markets.


In the area of innovation, the chemical sector is the leader in investment and expenditure in R&D&I and also in research staff employment.

Bucking the trend

Since the beginning of the global economic crisis in 2007, the chemical industry has increased sales by 32%, even though Spanish industrial production overall slumped by 15%.

Becoming a strategic sector

The chemical industry is the second-largest exporter of the Spanish economy, and the leading investor in R&D (22% over the total industry) and environmental protection. In 2009, the government declared it a strategic sector for the Spanish economy.

Main Production Areas

Catalonia region produces 43% of Spain’s chemicals.


Tarragona, a region located in the south of Catalonia, has one of the largest petrochemical clusters in southern Europe, producing 23% of Spain’s chemicals. The site produces about 21 million metric tonnes (MMT) per year and employs 10,000 people, generating more than 30,000 jobs in related activities. It is closely linked to local universities and research bodies.

Madrid region provides 13.5%, mainly pharmaceuticals and detergents.


Andalusia in the south produces 12.7% of output and includes Spain’s second largest chemical site at Huelva, where main outputs are organic and inorganic chemicals. The site employs 7,869 people directly and indirectly and generates a production value of about €8.2 billion.


Valencia region accounts for 8.4% of Spanish production.


Together these five regions produce 78% of Spain’s chemicals.

How are we doing?


  • Easy market access to high growth regions in Northern and Western Africa, Mediterranean Countries and Latin America. A gateway to EU chemicals market
  • High national chemicals consumption (over €72 billion)
  • Largest chemical cluster in the Mediterranean
  • 46 seaports with international shipping facilities
  • Europe’s biggest (15,600 km) motorways network, making for great logistics
  • 3 Trans-European rail networks
  • Flexible labour market and competitive labour costs
  • Strong collaboration with authorities in the development of national R&D&I strategies and programmes
  • Strong collaboration with universities and business schools, research centres, chemical engineers and professional associations
  • Largest gas infrastructure in Europe, including seven regasification plants enabling diversity of supply
  • National Competitiveness Plan for the Chemical Industry
  • Strong public support for the chemical industry, backed by a social responsibility certification programme
  • Strong alliance with other industries: Alliance for the Competitiveness of Industry (chemical, automotive, steel, refinery, paper, food & beverages, and concrete industries); Energy Industrial Platform (15 sectors)
  • Biggest growth of the economy and consumption in the Eurozone countries


  • Lack of domestic raw materials production
  • Weak access to European Energy Market

Our contribution to a competitive Europe

Driving down power and transport costs

First electricity and gas reforms were completed in 2015 to reduce energy costs. The new renewable energies strategy (2019), the drastic reduction of the regulated costs on electricity and gas energies (2019), and the announced statute for electricity-intensive industries (2019), will provide a more competitive energy cost.


The national logistics strategy for the chemical industry (2015-2020) aims to develop infrastructure and services for main chemical plants and clusters.

National Agenda for the Competitiveness of the Chemical Industry

  • Published in 2019 and signed by Feique and the Government of Spain
  • Objective: Develop the competitiveness of the chemical industry adopting 40 actions

New Industrial Policy

  • Objective: increase industry contribution to GDP (20%)
  • Starting 2018. Encompass 13 sectorial policies for strategic industries (including chemical industry)


  • National strategy R&D+I plan
  • Supporting programme for innovative clusters
  • Innovation support programme for SMEs

Links to Research Infrastructure

  • Strong links created with university research infrastructures via partnership between Feique and the Association of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry Faculties, to public research infrastructures, namely through partnership between Feique and the National Council of Scientific Research
  • Strong cooperation with public and private research infrastructures through SusChem España

Links to other industries

  • Alliance for the Competitiveness of Industry, formed by chemical, automotive, steel, refine, paper, food & beverages, and concrete industries representing a 50% of manufacturing gross product
  • Energy Industrial Platform, formed by 15 electricity consumer sectors

Smart Specialisation

The chemical industry is considered a strategic sector for Spanish national research and innovation programmes. Regarding the RIS3 Programme for Smart Specialisation, Feique has entered into contact with the 17 Spanish Regions for RIS3 and has developed through SusChem Spain a roadmap with proposals for specialisation areas in advanced materials, industrial biotechnology, advanced manufacturing and nanotechnology.

More Information

Snapshot of the Chemical Industry:


CSR and Sustainable Development Report:


« Smart Chemistry. Smart Future » Report:


Invest in Chemicals. Invest in Spain:


National Agenda for the Chemical Industry:


Chemical industry International trade issues: