Alberto Paccanelli (Source: Euratex)
Gas and electricity prices have reached unprecedented levels in Europe. Due to severe global competition in the market that characterizes the European textile and apparel industry, these cost increases are impossible to pass on to customers. This has already led to capacity reductions and production stops.
What scenarios do you expect for the European textile and apparel industry in the coming winter through the energy crisis?
The energy price rise is threatening the textile industry by a possible reduction or even suspension of production, with some companies considering moving production outside of the EU with a considerable loss of jobs. Without a serious and pragmatic intervention at European level, it will be difficult for the industry to remain competitive on the global market.
Are there sectors and companies that will be particularly hard hit?
The energy crisis affects the energy-intensive segments of our industry, such as textile finishing, but also the fiber producers and even the textile services.
Where could this lead?
Given the current situation, a scenario where entire segments of the textiles industry will disappear can no longer be excluded. This would lead to the loss of thousands of companies and tens of thousands of European jobs and would further aggravate the dependency of Europe to foreign sources of essential goods. This applies specifically to SMEs who need temporary support measures (e.g. state aids, tax relief, energy price caps) to survive the current crisis and to prepare for the green transition in the longer run.
What are the demands of Euratex to policy makers?
Euratex, in the name of the textile industry, along with other sector associations, is asking for a price cap on gas; most member states are asking the same, but the European Commission is hesitant to move forward with this. Euratex also believes in the need to revise the price setting mechanism for electricity. Most importantly, we need a plan at EU level, and not a situation where single member states compete with each other in launching national support programs.
The path should lead more strongly away from fast fashion towards slow fashion. Could this be an important building block for the entire textile and apparel industry to save energy and raw materials and thus become much more sustainable?
Already, the added value of the European textile industry lies in the high quality, durability and sustainability of its products. Nevertheless, the energy crisis is pushing companies to be smarter in the use of energy and focusing on more energy-efficient processes.Where are we on the road to a truly sustainable textile industry in Europe? Is there some kind of timetable for when and how the European textile industry will be clean, safe and climate neutral (without climate compensation)?
Following the European Commission’s presentation of the Textile Strategy in March, the industry is already preparing for the green, digital and social transformation. Over the next few years, the industry will re-consider the way it produces textiles and garments by the introduction of eco-design procedures, the use of the digital product passport and more sustainable materials.What are your guiding principles for the future?
Euratex welcomes the European Commission’s Textile Strategy and sees in it an opportunity for the European textile industry. Nevertheless, European institutions and national governments must provide realistic support within an appropriate institutional framework for the industry to undergo such a transformation, while remaining competitive on the global market.
The interview was conducted by the TextileTechnology team with Alberto Paccanelli, President of the European Apparel and Textile Confederation (Euratex), Brussels/Belgium.