Koen Coppenholle is the new Chief Executive of Cembureau. He took over from Jean-Marie Chandelle (Fig. 1) who retired at the end of June. Coppenholle has been Head of European Affairs for the steel group ArcelorMittal in Brussels since November 2007 and was Senior Counsel European Affairs with General Electric Europe in Brussels between September 2000 and November 2007.
Cembureau President, Ignacio Madridejos (Fig. 2) indicated “I am certain that Koen will rise to the challenge of positioning the cement industry in this ever-changing world. In addition, I wish to express my thanks to Jean-Marie Chandelle for his dedication to Cembureau during his 16 years as Chief Executive.”
Jean-Marie Chandelle added, “I would like to wish my successor, Koen, all the best in his new role. There are many opportunities ahead, and I am certain that under his leadership, the cement industry will be well positioned to make the most of them.”
Cembureau also announced the appointment of Claude Loréa (Fig. 3), Technical Director, as a Deputy Chief Executive of the Association.
ZKG spoke with Koen Coppenholle about future challenges and opportunities in and for the European cement industry.
ZKG: Mr. Coppenholle, what is your impression of the current challenges for or targets of the European cement industry?
Koen Coppenholle: In terms of challenges, it is clear that the cement industry needs to focus on competitiveness of its operations in Europe. In order to remain competitive and secure growth and jobs, the cement industry needs a regulatory environment that provides legal certainty and predictability and ensures a global level playing field. Our challenge and target remains to convey this message to policymakers and ensure policies are consistent, subject to proper and continuous impact assessments and take into account the availability of technologies.
It is against the background of the proper conditions for a competitive cement industry in Europe that Cembureau builds its contribution to other themes on the European agenda such as biodiversity, resource efficiency and sustainable construction. In its policy messages, Cembureau strongly emphasizes the contribution of co-processing of alternative materials and fuels as a unique contribution to resource efficiency and as an optimum way of reducing dependency on fuels and raw materials and lowering CO2 emissions.
In terms of biodiversity, Cembureau maintains that the development of quarrying activities can be done while achieving biodiversity goals and this through correct biodiversity management during the quarrying phase, allowing for biodiversity conservation and compatibility of quarrying activities and resource management.
Another main focus area for Cembureau is sustainable construction where we advocate an integrated strategy which takes into account the whole life-cycle of the end-use product, i.e. the building or construction work.
ZKG: Which topics have to be addressed first, and which ones subsequently?
Koen Coppenholle: In order to create a proper regulatory environment for the cement industry, we need to pay attention to all factors that influence our competitiveness and also medium to long term challenges deserve proper consideration. By way of example, we can refer to European climate change legislation whereby the risk of carbon leakage remains a reality and can lead to jobs, investment and growth being lost in Europe. Cembureau´s actions will therefore strongly focus on maintaining the carbon leakage status but, at the same time, we will reflect on medium to long term policies that affect the climate change debate such as the reflections on the interplay between energy and climate change or the outlook for the industry over a longer period in terms of technological development, emissions and economic prospects.
Cembureau has identified a list of top 10 priorities which reflect the issues mentioned above and which clarifies that it works on both short and longer term issues as they all shape the way in which industry needs to position itself.
ZKG: Which focuses or approaches of your predecessor will you to continue to develop further, and in which fields do you wish to set new milestones?
Koen Coppenholle: Many of the actions and initiatives I will take on will consist in further developing policies that have been set out by my predecessor, who will also continue to advise us on a number of important projects, primarily in the area of sustainable construction. Precisely in that area, Jean-Marie Chandelle has always emphasized the importance of cement and concrete in generating economic growth and jobs while providing the EU with improved infrastructure that will advance its competitiveness. The EU Commission’s recent focus on the construction sector and more particularly its “Communication on a strategy for the sustainable competitiveness of the construction industry and its enterprises” of 31.07.2012 will allow us to further deepen the knowledge with policymakers about the relevance of the construction sector for Europe’s welfare.
I consider it as my main challenge and task to engage Cembureau in a pro-active way by emphasizing the importance of framework conditions for competitiveness (and, there, we need to emphasize the increasing importance of the link between climate change and energy policy) and the need for policymakers to consider the full supply chain when presenting initiatives in order to allow for the cement industry to have a consistent policy framework that governs its raw materials sourcing, the process phase as well as product development and the ultimate use that is made of its products.
ZKG: Thanks for the discussion, and all the best for your work.