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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Non-metallic products and industries

Non-metallic mineral products comprise of the production of cement, ceramics, glass, and lime. These manufacturing sectors are characterised by the transformation of naturally occurring minerals such as limestone, silica, and clays through an energy‑intensive process. The end products range from bricks and tiles to glass and tableware. The European Commission promotes the competitiveness of all these sectors and encourages them to improve their resource and energy efficiency.

Why non-metallic mineral products are important

  • Diverse products – output ranges from construction products such cement, bricks and tiles, sanitary ware, and glass to consumer products such as tableware and decorative goods.
  • Manufacturers – companies range from global players (in the cement, flat glass, and bricks industries) to small and medium-sized companies (in the ceramics industry and parts of the lime industry).
  • EU Economy - production in non-metallic mineral products was worth €88.6 billion in 2006. This is about 5.2% of total manufacturing outputs in the EU.
  • Employment - the industry employed more than 1 million people in 2013.

Key challenges faced by non-metallic mineral products industry

Because the sectors are energy intensive, the key policy areas are energy and environment. They are within the scope of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, the Directive on Industrial Emissions (IED), and REACH.

Cement and lime

Cement and lime production is very important to the EU’s economy. Cement products are essential for construction and civil engineering, while lime is irreplaceable for the steel industry, as well as for construction materials, paints, plastics, and rubber. More on cement and lime.


The EU ceramic industry is a world leader in producing uniquely designed high quality products. Most manufacturers are innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). More on ceramics.


The EU is the world's largest producer of glass with a market share of around one third of total world production. The industry is known for the quality of its products, its capacity for technological innovation, and its skilled labour force. More on glass.


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