UK paper industry in favour of staying in reformed EU

The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) has issued a briefing to MPs in which CPI director general, David Workman, set out the case for the UK remaining within a reformed European Union.

He stated that the position of the UK’s papermakers, converters and recyclers is in favour of the UK remaining within a reformed EU. The future of UK papermaking relies on continued capital investment, and a strength of the EU for the industry is the ability to trade freely across borders.

Should the UK leave the EU, it would cast doubts over free movement and regulatory frameworks. Exporters would still have to comply with a host of EU regulations and standards, and papermakers would be projected into a period of uncertainty. This is the type of business environment that deters investors, putting in jeopardy the 25,000 direct and 100,000 indirect jobs in the paper supply chain in the UK.

This being said, reform to the EU is not only overdue but essential, Workman said. EU officials legislate in isolation regardless of the consequences to European industry, placing burdens and restrictions on industries such as paper, particularly in relation to environmental, energy and climate change measures. The UK Government is not entirely blameless either, having signed up to the most challenging climate change targets than any other EU country.

Whether the UK remains within the EU or not, a more level playing field is needed for Energy Intensive Industries (EIIs) across Europe, the report said. We need to be operating under the same regulatory regimes as other EU countries. Failure to act will result in the loss of even more capacity. The UK’s Paper Industry lost a massive 20 per cent of its capacity in 2015 and our country is now the largest importer of paper anywhere in the world.

Workman commented: “The debate on our membership of the EU will undoubtedly intensify over the coming months but we would urge Members of Parliament to recognise that the challenges for Energy Intensive Industries in the 21st century will be enormous and that we genuinely believe that we are in a better position to face them from within a reformed EU.”

Read more on this in the upcoming February issue of Converter magazine.