Essenscia (Belgium)

Who are we ?

essenscia is a multisectoral umbrella organisation that represents the numerous sectors of activities in the field of chemicals and the life sciences.

It includes nearly 800 companies representing more than 95% of the overall turnover in the sector.

The structure of essenscia is modelled on the reality of the Belgian institutions, with federal, regional and community areas of competence.

essenscia bruxelles, essenscia vlaanderen and essenscia wallonie, the three regional sections of essenscia, act as spokesmen for companies to the Brussels, Flemish and Walloon authorities on regional and community matters.

essenscia is made up of multidisciplinary skills centres which also deal with the main issues, irrespective of the level of power.

The 17 professional sections of essenscia represent and promote interests specific to their sector of activities.

essenscia represents and defends the sector’s interests at a European level through active involvement in Cefic (the European Council of Chemical Manufacturers' Federations) and the FEB (Federation of Belgian Companies).


Improving everyone’s quality of life

The world is facing important challenges in the use of energy, natural resources, and the provision of food, water and health for its population. Chemistry and Life Sciences are essential to making the world's development sustainable. Our innovative research is crucial to the development of new products, applications and services. Our industry is central to a successful future and to improving everyone's quality of life.


With its new mission, “Improving everyone’s quality of life”, essenscia undertakes to do its utmost to contribute towards sustainable development. Our society is facing major global challenges: energy, raw materials, water, food, health. More than any other industry, chemicals and the life sciences are in the front line when it comes to placing their formidable innovative capacity at the service of future generations. 

Along with all its members and all its sectors (from basic chemicals to biotechnology, pharmacy and biopharmacy, including plastics and rubber, detergents, adhesives, cosmetics, phytopharmaceutical products and lubricants), essenscia is called upon to play a fundamental role in research into and the development of solutions to these issues of vital importance for the future of our planet.

Among the main focuses of its work, which include labour relations as well as health, safety and the environment, not to mention the economy, employment and taxation, essenscia is to concentrate in particular on five priorities.

Sustainable development
Once “nice to have”, sustainable development has now become a necessity. It will make its mark on all essenscia’s activities.

Young people and training
The chemicals industry and life sciences need new talents. It is essential for more young people to study sciences and technology. To achieve this, we need to motivate but above all to inspire, showing young people the point of the studies and professions they will choose to take up the challenge of sustainability.

Innovation and biotechnologies
They are revolutionising our way of life. Huge progress is being made thanks to biopharmacy, biofuels, bioplastics and all the uses to which industrial biotechnology is being put.

Climate and energy
Europe has set ambitious targets for 2020: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 %, to increase the use of renewable energies by 20% and to improve energy efficiency by 20%. essenscia will contribute its know-how to develop renewable energies, improve building insulation and reduce consumption due to transport.

Consumer safety and REACH
Consumer confidence can only be increased by guaranteeing product safety and by explaining their composition openly. REACH and, going one step further, GHS, the Global Harmonised System for the classification and labelling of chemical products, are two pillars of essenscia’s commitment to society.

Dev Dur Vision_EN

Key figures

0.A very diverse portfolio of chemistry-based industrial activities developed through the past two centuries in Belgium. The Belgian chemical sector today has one of the highest degrees of specialisation in the world.

The chemical and life sciences is a very heterogeneous sector. It includes a wide range of activities, from basic organic and inorganic products to pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, products for agriculture, paints, glues, detergents, cosmetics, rubber and plastics processing and many other specialty products such as chemicals for the photographic industry.

Chemicals and life sciences serve many needs, from the most elementary to the most sophisticated in safety, hygiene, comfort, health and numerous other fields. The chemical and life sciences industry is a vital source for the sustainable development of our economy.

Belgium, a home base for the chemical industry

Belgium has been a home base for the chemical industry thanks to major innovations and the pioneering role of several 19th-century Belgians such as Ernest Solvay, Lieven Gevaert, Léo Hendrik Baekeland and Albert Meurice. In more recent decades, people such as Paul Janssen and Christian de Duve played a major role in the development of the pharmaceutical industry.

The spectacular development of the port area of Antwerp since the 1960s has been of vital importance for the growth of the base chemical industry in Belgium. Thanks to considerable investments by Belgian and foreign companies in the petrochemical industry and other major chemical activities, Antwerp has developed into a leading global petrochemical center.

The pharmaceutical industry, meanwhile, expanded rapidly during the past 20 years in Flanders as well as in Wallonia.

The chemical industry and life sciences in a nutshell

• The industry’s turnover exceeded 54 billion EUR in 2007, accounting for one-fifth of total turnover in Belgium’s manufacturing sector as a whole.

• Direct employment in the chemical and life sciences industry totals about 94,000 jobs, or 16% of all employment in the entire manufacturing sector. In addition, the chemical and life sciences industry generates about 150,000 indirect jobs in other sectors of the Belgian economy.

• The chemical and life sciences industry is highly export-oriented. Exports amounted to 99.2 billion EUR in 2007 (including transit). Exports of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics and rubber generated a positive trade balance of more than 18 billion EUR in 2007, contributing to the growth of the Belgian economy.

• Since 2005, the trade balance of the chemical and life sciences industry exceeds the total trade balance of Belgium as a whole.

Investment amounted to 1.96 billion EUR in 2007, representing more than one quarter of total investment in the manufacturing sector. The basic chemical industry accounted for nearly half of all investment, two-thirds of which was in the Antwerp region.

Research and development expenditure in the chemical and life sciences industry totalled an estimated 2.32 billion EUR in 2007. This represented nearly half of all private-sector R&D spending in Belgium. Life sciences, which includes pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, accounted for about three quarters of the sector’s R&D.

•The Belgian chemical industry accounts for more than 6% of the total European turnover in this sector, even though Belgium’s share of the total EU population is only 2.1%.






Diamant Building
Bd A. Reyers 80
1030 Brussels
Tel. +32 (0)2 238 97 11
Fax: +32 (0)2 231 13 01
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essenscia brussels: + 32 2 238 98 58
essenscia vlaanderen: + 32 2 238 97 87
essenscia wallonie: + 32 2 238 98 58



Last Updated ( Tuesday, 21 April 2009 )