The European ceramic industry appreciates the recognition by President von der Leyen of the efforts of European ceramic companies and workers to continue producing in this extremely complicated context. We would like to clarify that the example of the ceramic producer provided in the SOTEU address, producing artisanal ware, is not representative of the whole ceramic industry as far the potential for moving electricity consumption to off-peak hours is concerned. Industrial ceramic installations rely on a continuous process, with kilns firing 24/7 and most of the electricity demand being correlated to the functioning and pace of the kiln. Our energy mix is based at 80% on gas and 20% on electricity and therefore, the potential gains in electricity consumption are limited in ceramics. Besides, ceramic processes in Europe are extremely efficient, with energy consumption and costs optimised everywhere it is possible. Energy already represented 30% of production costs in ceramics before the energy crisis, against 60-70% today. Therefore, there has always been a very strong incentive to reduce energy costs and shifting outside peak hours has already been done whenever deemed appropriate.
The situation of this small ceramic producer nevertheless reflects well the challenges faced currently by EU ceramic producers, who have to cope with an increase of their gas bill by 1000%. With gas and electricity prices at these levels, more and more energy intensive producers will be forced to suspend production, thereby losing market shares on domestic and export markets, market shares which we may never recover. We welcome the acknowledgement by President von der Leyen in her SOTEU address that the gas market is not working and of the need to work to lower gas prices by discussing measures including: price caps, working on the establishment of a more representative gas benchmark and decoupling the dominant influence of gas on electricity prices. However, measures limiting gas and electricity prices need be agreed urgently and implemented immediately if we want to prevent irreversible social and economic impacts.
Cerame-Unie also welcomes the confirmed review of the Temporary Crisis Framework. We stress that the Temporary Crisis Framework needs to be prolonged and adapted to the current situation by reviewing significantly the eligibility criteria for energy intensive industries and more particularly for gas intensive sectors. Such adaptations are also extremely urgent.