EU vote shows Parliament strongly divided on crop-based biofuels

By The EU Biofuels Chain | November 09, 2017

The European Parliament Transport Committee’s decision to reject the opinion put forward by MEP Bas Eickhout, and not to endorse the hardline Environment Committee’s position on conventional biofuels, is yet another sign of the divisions over where EU biofuels policy should be heading—and comes at a time when support for transport decarbonization is needed more than ever.

On Nov. 9 the Transport Committee rejected Eickhout’s opinion on the post-2020 EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED II). Due to a lack of agreement on the outcome of the Environment Committee’s proposal on the phase-out of crop-based biofuels, the Transport Committee had opted to vote on the “Original text based on Rule 174(3),” de facto referring to the text initially proposed by the European Commission. In the end, reinforcing the divisiveness on this file, the Transport Committee rejected the overall opinion with 30 MEPs voting against (and only 11 endorsing it).

Speaking on behalf of the eight associations representing the EU Biofuels Chain, Copa and Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen stated, “The EU Biofuels Chain could not welcome the Transport Committee’s endorsement of the commission’s original proposal—entailing a phase-out of the use of biofuels by 2030—since that would seriously undermine the EU’s climate and sustainability objectives. The rejection of the overall report, however, provides a strong political signal that the biofuels issue is complex, and that finding a common view among the different parliamentary committees, and at plenary level, will be extremely challenging.”

Given the importance of this file for the EU transport sector, and the impact the European Commission’s proposal would have on EU climate goals and our industrial and agricultural sectors, it would have been appropriate to see the opinion of all involved MEPs and committees equally considered. The outcome of this Nov. 9 vote means a Transport Committee opinion will not be considered by the Environment Committee, which has exclusive competence on the sustainability criteria (article 25) and treatment of conventional biofuels (article 7).

In the run-up to this vote, the EU Biofuels Chain had called upon the Transport Committee to adopt a dedicated target for the use of renewable energy in the transport sector, and called for a halt on the proposed phase-out of crop-based biofuels, which are essential in agricultural sustainability and represent the most cost-effective and readily available solution to decarbonize the transport sector. These elements are crucial to create a policy framework that supports all sustainable forms of renewable energy and contributes to the reduction of fossil fuels’ use and protein feed imports.

The Secretary-General of the European Biodiesel Board Raffaello Garofalo concluded, “Although the Transport and Environment Committees share the same rapporteur on RED II, today’s vote is contradictory and reflects the fragile position adopted in the Environment Committee opinion. It clearly demonstrates the parliament’s division on the overall file, and now the parliament’s plenary will have the final word on the direction of the EU biofuels policy.”

The EU Biofuels Chain is made up of eight organizations: Fediol, the European Biodiesel Board, the European Renewable Ethanol Association, Coceral, the European Oilseed Alliance, CIBE, CEPM, and Copa and Cogeca. 


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