The European Green Deal aims to reduce European Union (EU) greenhouse gas emissions by 55% in 2030 compared to 1990 and reach net zero in 2050. Almost a third of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU originates from industry. In particular in north-western Europe, home to a substantial part of the EU’s basic materials production, industry is heavily clustered. In other parts of the EU, industrial clusters are expanding or under development. Industrial clusters are large energy and feed stock users and need access to markets. They are connected through pipelines and power lines, as well as rail, road or river transport infrastructure. The formation or transformation of such clusters to comply with the climate neutrality and circularity aims of the European Green Deal is therefore as much an infrastructural as a climate policy challenge.

This policy brief offers practical recommendations for the transformation and interconnection of clusters of the basic materials industry. First, it discusses the main characteristics (section I) and governance (II) of five industrial clusters in the Netherlands and Belgium. Then it discusses current key projects and developments between industrial clusters in Antwerp-Rotterdam-Rhine-Ruhr Area (ARRRA) (III), and ends (IV) with what national and EU policymakers could do to make sure that industrial clusters are enabled to make their important contribution to the European Green Deal.