Another year is coming to an end and it is a good time to look back at how the year has been – for our industry and for the association.
After a decrease of over 11% in 2020, during 2021 the European lubricant industry has been on a firm recovery trajectory, supported by a faster than expected rebound of the EU economy. During 2021, as vaccination campaigns progressed and restrictions started to be lifted, growth resumed in spring and continued unabated through summer, underpinned by the re-opening of the economy. At almost 14% in annual terms, the rate of GDP growth in the EU in the second quarter of 2021 was the highest reading on record – as high as the unprecedented fall in GDP in the same period last year, during the first wave of the pandemic. The EU economy regained the pre-pandemic output level in the third quarter of 2021 and moved from recovery into expansion.
However, in spite of the positive signals coming from the economic situation, as we write, the pandemic is not yet under control and new restrictions are being implemented across Europe.
Concerns on possible restrictions limiting mobility likely to impact the UEIL annual congress were the reason leading us to hold the 2021 Congress in a virtual form. But the attendance and feedback we received exceeded our most optimistic expectations!
Nearly 450 participants from 60 different countries registered for the congress, across the whole supply chain – from suppliers to OEMs, and even some participants from the academic world. While we all missed being able to meet in person, there is no doubt that a virtual platform enabled reaching out to a broader audience, with many participants joining the UEIL Congress for the first time. It was therefore particularly important to make sure that our Congress lived up to our mission, to educate stakeholders on the value and benefit of the lubricants industry for the economy, society, and the environment.
I would like to take the opportunity offered by this space to thank – personally and on behalf of the UEIL board – everybody, speakers, sponsors and the Secretariat, who contributed to make our very first virtual congress a success.
Another important activity supporting our education and reputation mission was the production of the 2019 and 2020 industry statistic data. As the European association for the sector, it is an important part of UEIL’s mission to issue reliable sector statistics to support decision makers and provide reliable data for policy makers at national as well as at the European level. As the global COVID-19 pandemic has caused a major shock to the European economy, posing an unprecedented challenge to all sectors of our economy, and businesses need to base their decisions and future strategies on data analysis, market data are fundamental to a better understanding of industry trends and market dynamics that is key to underpinning business planning decisions. The webinars organised by UEIL in the last month based on the 2019 and 2020 statistics were very well received with over 200 participants registered, which supports the importance of the UEIL’s mission to educate stakeholders on the European lubricant industry.
The success of the 2021 initiatives gives us even more energy and motivation to work towards the 2022 Congress. The congress will take place in Athens on 19-21 October and will be focused on innovation: innovation across the whole value chain – from raw materials to production technologies, from product development to customer experience. Our industry has taken giant leaps into the future and we believe that the 2022 Congress will be a great opportunity to celebrate our industry’s achievements and be inspired to further progress on the innovation journey.
The education mission is, however, only one part of UEIL’s mission. The advocacy mission is a very important part of our purpose and reason for existing, and again this year has been a year in which we have dedicated a large part of our resources to key advocacy key projects. You will read more about this in the dedicated section of this newsletter, but I would like to thank François Guegan for his invaluable work. All our advocacy successes wouldn’t be possible without him.
Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to thank everybody, the Board of Directors, the Committee Chairs and members, the Secretariat and all the UEIL members for their time, competence, dedication, suggestions, feedback and all the various ways in which each of you has contributed. People are the very soul of an association and I am honoured to have had the privilege to work with all of you during this past year.
To conclude, I wish you and your families a peaceful and serene holiday season. I hope that you will be able to dedicate this break to whatever makes you happy and gives you energy.
I am looking forward to working together next year, with even more inspiration and passion to continue building value for our industry, the society and the environment.