UKLA President’s Report

I wrote at the start of 2019 that we live in a “VUCA” world, with greater Volatility and speed of change; greater Uncertainty, with less predictability and more surprises; greater Complexity; and much more Ambiguity than ever before.

I am writing this as the UK prepares for the onslaught of the Covid-19 coronavirus, and with restrictions already being put in place in many European countries. The advent of the coronavirus throughout Europe has brought great disruption to our sector, our products and our markets.

The health and well-being of our employees and their families must remain paramount at all times, in any event, but of course without our colleagues we are also unable to conduct our business or engage our customers.

However economic necessity means that we must continue to provide customers with products in the markets in which we serve, often across national boundaries, and this involves complex supply chains of suppliers, distributors and, of course, customers themselves. We are an “essential business”: our products are vital for industry and society.

UEIL President’s Report

In December the European Commission (EC) published a Communication on the European Green Deal (EGD). As underlined by the President of the EC, Ursula von der Leyen, the EGD is the ‘new growth strategy that aims to transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 and where economic growth is decoupled from resource use.’ The Communication included an initial roadmap of the key policies and measures needed to achieve the EGD, which is to be updated as the policy responses are formulated.

The decarbonisation and modernisation of the energy sector are crucial aspects of the EGD. In addition, the circular economy action plan will include a ‘sustainable products’ policy to support the circular design of all products based on a common methodology and principles. This is an opportunity for our industry to demonstrate that we have innovative potential and sustainable solutions available. The framework will foster new business models and set minimum requirements to prevent environmentally harmful products from being placed on the EU market. Extended producer responsibility will also be strengthened.


Already we have seen the sheer displacement of populations and curtailments of freedoms as Governments restrict the movement of their citizens in an effort to contain the virus. Many companies have been affected by the sheer scale and speed of transmission from airlines to transport and even our own supply sector.

Business disruption and business continuity plans are already in progress among many companies. Necessarily so. The move to mass scale remote working, virtual meetings and digital collaboration is perhaps a path that many companies will continue to embrace long after the coronavirus has been consigned to history.

How long the oil price, our markets and our customers take to recover could take a little longer.

Let’s hope all our businesses and our people can survive this latest example of the VUCA world we live in...

David Hopkinson, UKLA President

Moreover, following in the footsteps of the previous Commission mandate, digitalisation (including automated and connected driving), alternative fuels, and electrification are identified as solutions that will help achieve the ambitious climate goals announced in the EGD. A move towards alternative fuels and electric mobility will certainly pose challenges but also opportunities for the lubricant industry.

Our Annual Congress which will take place on October 28-30 in Athens, Greece, whose theme will be “Driving sustainable growth: moving forward together”, will provide an excellent platform to better understand the different aspects of sustainability and its impact on the lubricant industry and will be opened by a keynote speech on the European Green Deal.

I hope to see many of you in Athens to discuss how we can contribute to the sustainable growth of the lubricant industry and define together the future of our industry.

Valentina Serra-Holm, UEIL President

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