About us

History of the organisation

History of the organisation

Because of its very long history, local roots and fragmentation, papermaking was slower to adapt to the new European reality than many other process industries such as chemicals. Producers were largely organized through national associations. By 1991, there was a long-established, inward-looking European Group in Brussels, CEPAC, which concentrated on lobbying for its smaller EU member companies, often against the growing influence of expanding Nordic producers and the global dominance of North America.

From the early 1980’s, Nordic and other European Free Trade Association papermakers could join with their EU colleagues in EPI, the Paris-based European Paper Institute which dealt with pan-European market statistics, including those of several product groups. In those pre-digital and pre-environmental days, the major problem facing all European paper producers was the decline in profitability as a result of increased international competition. Instead of relatively closed, tariff - protected national markets, the trend was now clearly towards free-trade both within Europe and also globally. With rising living standards and changing technology, the consumption of most paper grades in Europe was growing rapidly but so too was production, especially from large specialist new machines often from new cross –border suppliers taking advantage of more open, international markets and improved distribution methods. Excess capacity and the fight for market share was a persistent problem. In addition to changing markets and sharply increased competition, papermakers were now facing new questions from outside their traditional relationships, about recycling, labelling, management of forestry resources, use of chemicals etc, all of which required a fresh approach by the industry. CEPAC could not speak for the large European non common market producers and EPI was non-lobbying. The industry needed to find one voice. CEPI, The Confederation of European Paper Industries, came into effect in January 1992, with a new address and a distinctive logo.

CEPI set as its primary task to determine the key issues facing the industry, find common ground and communicate so that the whole European paper industry could at last start to speak with one voice. CEPI operated through a series of committees on environment, forestry, packaging, waste paper and started to build alliances with other industries. It was clearly a lobbying organization with the stated objective of advancing the legitimate interests of the European pulp and paper industry through developing good relations with the European Commission and Parliament and other influences such as media and consumer groups.

Now, CEPI brings together the pulp and paper producers from across Europe, to coordinate actions at European level and support the industry’s strategy and objectives. The ultimate goal of CEPI is to bring added value to the industry in its pathways to go forward. The mission of CEPI is to promote the uniqueness of the industry in being the example of how sustainability and competitiveness can go hand in hand.

In order to achieve its mission, CEPI facilitates the cooperation within the whole forest and paper chain. CEPI members are national associations from 18 countries. They bring to CEPI their expertise and the national perspective towards a European approach that enhances the best commonalities in the industry.In 1997 the Czech Pulp and Paper Association SPPAC became associate member of CEPI and in 1999 the Slovakian association followed. Hungary joined in 2001 and Poland not until 2003. In 2004 all four associate members became regular members, at the same time when their countries officially joined the European Union. In 2006 the Danish and Irish associations ceased to be members of CEPI. Slovenia joined CEPI in January 2010. Switzerland ceased to be a member in 2012 which brings the number of members to 18.

Many eminent men from the highest levels of industry have been associated with CEPI and its work. These include the Chairmen who have served over the past twenty years:

Period    Chairman
1992-93   Hartwig Geginat
1994-95   Frank de Wit
1996-97   Lars Helgesson
1998-99   Luis Deslandes
2000-01   Juha Niemela
2002-03   Michael Gröller
2004-05   Carl Björnberg
2006-07   Frits Beurskens
2008-09   Magnus Hall
2009-10   Berry Wiersum
2011-12   Jussi Pesonen
2013-15   Gary McGann
2016-17   Peter Oswald
2018-19   Karl-Henrik Sundström