Increasing concerns by European plastics leaders about a growing European Union regulatory threat is stimulating the formation of specialized groups to protect and forward the interests of segments of the continent's plastics processing industry.
Three plastics sheet extrusion companies in October joined forces to start a new trade association, the European Performance co-Extruders (EPEX), under the umbrella of the Brussels-based European Plastics Converters Association.
The move comes shortly after the formation of Plasfuelsys - another new sector group under EuPC's auspices - that aims to become the primary voice of the automotive plastic fuel systems industry.
EPEX was founded by Senoplast Klepsch & Co. GmbH, Athlone Extrusions Ltd. and British Vita plc to provide a forum for issues of European regulation and legislation affecting coextruded ABS/acrylic sheet. Materials supplier Dow Europe joined the group as an associate member.
Senoplast's Wilhelm Klepsch will serve as EPEX president, and the association will operate out of EuPC's headquarters.
Meanwhile, five firms have come together to start Plasfuelsys. The founding members are Ergom Automotive, Inergy Automotive Systems, Kautex, TI Automotive and Visteon Corp., with Inergy's Jean-Pierre Hermans serving as the new president. The group aims to address such issues as the European Union's strategy on carbon-dioxide emissions from passenger cars, bio-fuels and the end-of-life vehicle directive.
EuPC and the German trade association GKV (Gesamtverband Kunststoffverabeitende Industrie e.V.) jointly issued a statement at the K show in Dusseldorf warning that ``an increasing bureaucratic machine in Brussels is becoming more distant from the reality of manufacturing in the EU as experienced by small and medium-sized firms.'' They also suggested the danger is increasing of policy being based on false assumptions.
EuPC President David Williams said EU regulatory initiatives often are uncoordinated and could have a negative impact on companies, both in terms of management time needed to track them and in the direct effect of the eventual measures.
Williams, a Briton who in late September unexpectedly resigned as chief executive of plastics packaging giant Linpac Group plc, said in a brief interview at the K show that such overzealous regulations only serve to deter entrepreneurs. He noted that the United Kingdom takes over the EU Commission presidency in June 2005, and he hopes that U.K. leadership can curb what he called the ``gold-plating of EU regulations.''
Williams, who spent more than 30 years with Linpac, is six months into his second two-year term as EuPC president.