News Land Grabbing / Agrofuels – September 2013

News Land Grabbing / Agrofuels – September 2013


Agrofuels: The final vote in the European Parliament


Campaign & Lobby in the run-up to the vote


In the run-up to the vote on the Renewable Energy Directive and the Fuel Quality Directive, which both are crucial in determining the consumption targets of agrofuels in Europe, there has been intense lobbying on Members of European Parliament (MEP’s) from both civil society and the biofuel industry. Civil society launched several campaigns and contacted MEP’s with the aim to drastically reduce agrofuel consumption in the EU and to completely phase-out subsidies for agrofuel production. As part of a wider civil society coalition, AEFJN has sent open letters and emails to MEP’s in order to voice our concerns. In the end we also send out our voting recommendations to the MEP’s. The biofuel industry on the other side spared neither cost nor effort to get the MEP’s on their side. Armies of industry lobbyists have flocked the European Parliament and have inundated MEP’s with their emails. These lobbying activities were termed “indecent” by MEP Corinne Lepage, who was the Rapporteur of the ENVI Committee for the proceedings on the Directives mentioned above.


Result of the vote


The vote in plenary was characterised by a rivalry between the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Alliance for Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). Both groups disposed of a rapporteur for the discussions on this proposal, Alejo Vidal-Quadras (EPP) and Corinne Lepage (ALDE), who could not agree on a compromise text.[1] The final vote exposed a sharp division between “progressive MEP’s” (Greens, Socialist & Democrats, ALDE), who wanted more restrictions on agrofuel consumption and “conservative MEP’s” (EPP & Conservative group), who wanted less restrictions agrofuel consumption. In the end the plenary agreed on a limit of 6% on the consumption of all land-based biofuels in transport fuels. This allows industry to increase production, because agrofuel consumption currently stands at 4,7%. Furthermore, the rivalry between conservative and progressive MEP’s resulted in the refusal to give Corinne Lepage a mandate to negotiate the proposal with the Council of Ministers. As a consequence the proposal, which can be considered as a “non-agreement” of the EP, will almost certainly go into second reading in the EP. This might postpone a decision on this controversial proposal until after the elections of 2014.


Next Steps: Council of Ministers


However, in the Council of Ministers the situation is even worse, because the Lithuanian presidency is proposing a higher limit of 7% and several member states are even against any sort of limit on the consumption of agrofuels. So far only 6 member states[2] have expressed to be in favour of a certain limit on agrofuel consumption, which is largely insufficient to form a blocking minority. In conclusion, the proposal in its current form (after the vote in the European Parliament) will not reduce agrofuel consumption in the EU nor reduce the negative impact of agrofuel production on African populations.




[1] Before the final vote in plenary, several Parliamentary Committees drew up reports on the Renewable Energy Directive and the Fuel Quality Directive. In the end it came down to a battle between two of these committees and their rapporteurs: the ENVI- Committee (Environment, Public Health and Food Safety) with rapporteur Corinne Lepage (ALDE) and the ITRE-Committee (Industry Research and Energy) with rapporteur Alejo Vidal-Quadras (EPP). In summary the ITRE-report represented a position in line with the demands of the industry: a very high “limit” on food-based agrofuels, no ILUC-criteria[1] and a weak sustainability framework. On the other side the ENVI-report required a more restrictive cap on the use of agrofuels, reporting on ILUC-criteria and a good sustainability framework. Both reports failed to satisfy the concerns of civil society.


[2] Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Netherlands, UK, Slovenia


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