Landscape of the European Chemical Industry 2017

Landscape of the European Chemical Industry 2017




58 billion €

Number of companies


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 2014 chemicals, including pharmaceuticals but not plastics and rubber products, became the second largest industry in Spain, accounting for 12,4% of manufacturing gross product. It generated value of about €16 billion on sales of €58 billion – outpaced only by the massive food, beverages & tobacco industry.

Bucking the trend

Since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2007, the chemical industry has increased sales by 17%, even as Spanish industrial production overall slumped 20%. Spain now ranks among the seven biggest chemical countries in Europe.

Becoming a strategic sector

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

Catalonia region produces 43% of Spain’s chemicals.


Tarragona, a city a little further south, has one of southern Europe’s biggest petrochemical clusters, producing another 23%. The site produces about 21 million metric tonnes (MMT) per year and employs 6,000 people, generating more than 30,000 jobs in related activities. It is closely linked to local universities and research bodies.

Madrid region provides 13%, mainly pharmaceuticals and detergents.


Andalusia in the south produces 12% of output and includes Spain’s second largest chemical site at Huelva, where main outputs are organic and inorganic chemicals. The site employs 8,000 people directly and indirectly and generates total sales of about €11 billion.


Valencia region accounts for 8% of Spanish production. Together these four regions produce 76% 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 chemical consumption
  • Largest chemical cluster in the Mediterranean
  • 46 seaports with international shipping facilities
  • Europe’s biggest (14,700 km) motorways network, making for great logistics
  • 60 tonne trucks authorised
  • Ongoing rail investments to introduce the UIC standard gauge and develop the Mediterranean, Central and North corridors to connect with the European market
  • 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
  • Great potential for shale gas
  • 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 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)


  • Lack of domestic raw materials production
  • High energy costs for mid-sized firms
  • Weak access to European Energy Market
  • Slow progress in upgrading Iberian (non-standard) railway gauge 44 tonne weight limit for road transport on intermodal freight

Our contribution to a competitive Europe

Driving down power and transport costs

Electricity and gas reforms were completed in 2015 to reduce electricity costs.


A national logistics strategy for the chemical industry aims to develop infrastructure and services for main chemical plants and clusters.

National Competitiveness Plan for the Chemical Industry (€200 Million yearly from 2010)

  • Started in 2013 and no end foreseen
  • Objective: finance new investments and competitiveness improvements

Industrial Policy National Strategy

  • Started in 2014. Encompass 93 initiatives and specific measures to improve all competitiveness factors of the Spanish Industry
  • Objective: increase industry contribution to GDP (20%)

Marca España

  • Started in 2013
  • Objective: Marca España (Spain Trademark) is a state policy whose objective is to improve the image of our country, both domestically and beyond its borders, for the common In a globalised world, a good country image is an asset that helps to support the international position of a political, economic, cultural, social, scientific and technological state


  • 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.