Ineos founder and Brexit-backer Sir Jim Ratcliffe has slammed the EU over expensive regulations and “stupid” green taxes he claims are choking Europe’s chemicals industry.
In an open letter to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, Sir Jim warned Europe is “no longer competitive” as a result of its strict energy and labour laws, which he claims are the most expensive in the world.
He added the EU is “scaring away investment with heavy green taxes”, with Europe’s share of the world chemical market having halved to just 15% in the last 10 years.
He told President Juncker Europe has the “world’s most expensive energy and labour laws that are uninviting for employers”.
“Worst of all, it has green taxes that at best can be described as foolish, at worst as simply stupid as they are having the opposite effect to how they were intended,” he added.
It comes just weeks after Ineos – which runs the huge Grangemouth site in Scotland – announced a mammoth investment in Europe, unveiling plans for a new £2.6 billion plant in Belgium.
The ethane gas “cracker” unit will be built in Antwerp and was hailed by the group as a move that would reverse years of decline in the sector.
But Sir Jim – who has been a high profile supporter of Brexit – cautioned the EU that the investment from Ineos was likely to be a rare exception.
“Nobody but nobody in my business seriously invests in Europe. They haven’t for a generation,” he wrote.
Instead, petrochemicals firms invest in America, the Middle East or China, where he said they have lower taxes and are investing in the sector.
On Ineos’ decision to invest in Belgium, he said: “Don’t expect others to follow.
“They will be welcomed by the USA and China with a warm smile and a good strategy.
“Europe reminds me somewhat of the Charge of the Light Brigade immortalised in Tennyson’s wonderful poem, full of valour and good intention but the outcome will not be pretty.”
Despite taking aim at the EU, Sir Jim – Britain’s richest man – is reportedly moving to Monaco in Europe to avoid UK taxes on his £21 billion fortune.
Sir Jim owns 60% of Ineos, which makes sales of around 60 billion US dollars (£46.6 billion) a year and employs around 19,000 people.