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EU groups warn against biofuel changes

The largest European farm and co-op group and key European Union biofuel industry organizations have stepped up pressure against the European Commission’s proposals to make fundamental changes in EU biofuels policy.

The European Commission has proposed imposing indirect land-use factors in deciding whether a fuel reduces environmental damage, as well as a 5 percent limit on the use of crop-based biofuels and reduced subsidies. The policies are scheduled to be finalized on October 17.

In a letter sent to the EU Commission, Copa-Cogeca, the European equivalent of the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Council of Farmer Co-operatives, joined with leading EU biofuel industry groups to argue that a fundamental change in policy will cause a dramatic loss of trust in EU decision-making and seriously undermine future investments in the EU biofuel sector and bioeconomy in general.

“Without a stable policy framework, no future investments in advanced biofuels in Europe are to be expected,” they warned.

The European biofuels industry has made investments that amount to 14 billion Euro and is estimated to provide direct jobs to 100,000 European citizens, Copa-Cogeca said in a news release.

“Any proposal must provide investment confidence and ensure that the 2020 targets under existing policies are not jeopardized,” said Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen.

“We urge the commission to revise the proposal and the impact assessment. Otherwise, the EU strategy in favor of the biobased economy is going to collapse,” he said.

Copa-Cogeca believes biofuels offer advantages in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy dependency and in providing employment in EU rural areas, the group said in a news release. Biproducts are produced according to strict certification rules and relieve land pressures in non-EU countries to produce soy bean and helps to combat deforestation of tropical rainforests, the group added.