5th Feb 2023

Brazil calls on Brussels to scrap biofuel tariffs

  • Biofuels - the way forward? (Photo: European Community, 2006)

Brazil - the world's largest producer of biofuels – has suggested the EU should scrap its biofuel import tariffs, challenging it to both compete more fairly in international trade while finding ways to live up to its green targets.

Speaking at an International Biofuels Conference in Brussels on Thursday (5 July), Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva said it was a historic opportunity for the developed world to help build a "prosperous and fair world" but that the barriers to entering the agricultural market in the developed world, such as the EU, were preventing this.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"We cannot send out contradictory signals. The very governments who reiterated a commitment to sustainable development and to the reduction of greenhouse gases cannot then turn around and create obstacles to turning biofuels into international commodities," he said.

But EU capitals remain very divided on import tariffs with France keen to protects its farmers while Sweden is at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Swedish trade minister Sten Tolgfors on Thursday called on the EU to scrap its tariffs on biofuel imports to increase trade in the commodity. "We must combat all trade barriers," he said at the conference.

EU biofuels target

Biofuels are made of the same products as fossil fuels - plants, trees and animal waste – but have the advantage of being able to be produced straight from the product unlike fossil fuels that have been processed over millions of years.

EU member states vowed in March to replace 10 percent of transport fuel with biofuel made from energy crops by 2020. At the moment, the figure is only 1.8 percent and the European Commission sees the importation of biofuels as a way to reach that goal.

"Europe should be open to accepting that we will import a large part of our biofuel resources," said EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson, also at the conference.

Brussels is keen to use biofuels as an important part of ensuring energy security in the EU and to limit the bloc's greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels like gasoline.

But there are also concerns that production of crops for fuel may contribute to wiping out rainforests as well as to rising food prices in developing countries.

"Our aim must be to develop an EU biofuels policy which meets our objective on security of supply and climate change, while ensuring sustainable development," said European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

The EU executive is expected to come forward with a draft law by the end of the year, which will include minimum standards for sustainable biofuels production.

Green groups are keeping a close eye on the commission's legislation progress on biofuels.

"I am pleased that the European Union clearly states the need for standards, but it's too early to say whether I'll be pleased with the final outcome" said Jean-Philippe Denruyter from the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Biofuels - green or mean?

Using biofuels could be one of the ways the EU achieves its goal of being less dependent on fossil fuels from abroad and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. But if they are not produced ethically, they could become yet another contribution to the world's environment problems, warn environment groups.

Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'

The European Central Bank raised interest rates by another 0.5 percent to a 14-year high, and expects to hike rates by another half percent in March. But what does that mean for the green transition?

Latest News

  1. Greece faces possible court over 'prison-like' EU-funded migration centres
  2. How the centre-right can take on hard-right and win big in 2024
  3. Top EU officials show Ukraine solidarity on risky trip
  4. MEPs launch anonymous drop-box for shady lobbying secrets
  5. Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'
  6. MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils
  7. How Pavel won big as new Czech president — and why it matters
  8. French official to take on Islamophobia in EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us