BRUSSELS — The European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers Association (ETRMA) has called on the European Union (EU) for support measures to mitigate the "increasingly severe impact" of the COVID-19 pandemic on Europe's tire industry.
Health concerns, supply shortages, low demand and government restrictions have led many ETRMA member companies to announce temporary closures of their European plants.
R&D facilities, other operational areas and retail networks have also been affected, the association said March 25.
Fazilet Cinaralp, secretary-general of Brussels-based ETRMA, called the COVID-19-induced business disruption "one of the biggest challenges" the industry has ever faced.
"The suspension of the main operational activities will undoubtedly have severe, long-lasting reverberations for our industry," Ms. Cinaralp said. "Yet it is unclear when the European tire industry will be able to resume its production activities and the international supply-chain will be up and running again," she added.
The ETRMA, therefore, called for "constructive dialogue" between industry, EU institutions and governments on policies to remediate the impact of this crisis on European tire makers.
Discussions should cover the development of schemes that ensure the well-being of the workforce, and support a smooth restart of activities once the immediate health crisis is over.
The goal, Ms. Cinaralp said, should be "to stimulate the recovery of our sector to avoid a permanent loss of capacity, research capability and innovation, with the engagement of all European stakeholders."
In its statement, the ETRMA also expressed its support for measures already taken by E.U. and national governments and gratitude for those working at the frontline of the global health crisis.
The ETRMA represent nearly 4,400 companies in the E.U., directly employing about 370,000 people. Member companies operate 93 tire factories and 17 R&D centers.