Policies & Issues

Metalworking & Metal Articles

What is it?

Back in 2007, a vision paper entitled “Strengthening the link” (a metaphor for strengthening the metalworking/  metal articles sector) was released by Orgalime to highlight the importance of a largely underrepresented and little known sector: just as a chain is only as strong as its links, so the metalworking sector is essential in the EU’s manufacturing landscape, positioned between its suppliers, the steel and non-ferrous metals industry, and its clients, which include most other manufacturing sectors.

In 2009, a study (copies in many languages can be obtained from Orgalime - e-mails should be addressed to Eleonora Piccinni, email is: firstname.lastname[at]orgalime.org) was commissioned by the European Commission to analyse the state of play of the metalworking industry in Europe and to identify possible strategies for the future of this sector.  This was carried out in close cooperation with Orgalime.  The report was officially launched in June 2010 in Bilbao, Spain.


Why is it important?

The main characteristics of the metalworking industry are reflected in the report which evidences that this industry is special in many ways:

  • This is an industry essentially of family owned small and medium enterprises, 95% of which employ less than 50 people and 80% of which less than 10 employees.
  • Metalworking and metal articles play an essential role in the supply chain between major suppliers of raw materials (steel and non-ferrous metals producers) and large customers such as the automotive, aerospace, engineering and transportation industries.
  • These SMEs are spread all over the European Union, in each region and every town, often close to their customer base.
  • These companies, although small compared to those in other sectors, are flexible and versatile, innovative and service-oriented.

Notwithstanding these impressive figures and the importance of this actor in the EU manufacturing industry and its supply chain, currently the 400,000 companies of the metalworking industry are largely unrecognised by public authorities.


Our viewpoint

Orgalime welcomes the support of DG Enterprise and Industry for having invested the resources on this issue and welcomes the publication of the report which, for the first time in EU history, analyses in some depth an industry sector which has remained largely invisible to European and sometimes national authorities, even though it is the largest manufacturing employer in Europe with some 4,200,000 employed in over 400,000 companies representing 12% of manufacturing employment and 20% of all manufacturing companies.  The sector also delivers 10% of total valued-added manufacturing.


How we’ve been engaged

Since the launch of the study, Orgalime has issued a position paper in which we briefly underlined some of the more important issues highlighted by the study and suggested some steps for follow-up. Orgalime welcomes the efforts that the European Commission has already made to develop the image of the sector at the Metalworking & Metal Articles report’s launch in Bilbao, and requested the European Commission to support and partially finance communication campaigns within Europe to reinforce the image of the sector with both the general public (young people in particular) and politicians.

A follow-up workshop to highlight the contribution that this sector makes to European manufacturing was held under the Belgian Presidency of the European Union and DG Enterprise and Industry now has staff working on the issues of the industry which typifies what are called “industrial SMEs”.

Position papers

Position paper on the eventual extension of safeguard measures for steel products

3 September, 2002
Policies & Issues:
Metalworking & Metal Articles
3 September, 2002
Policies & Issues:
Metalworking & Metal Articles

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