Thursday

2nd Dec 2021

Opinion

Stop green protectionism

  • Each litre of ethanol consumed in Europe is subsidised by about €0,75 of tax money (Photo: European Community, 2006)

The interest in and the development of environmentally friendly products has grown rapidly over the last years. This is good news. But there is a growing threat that the strive for CO2 reduction is resulting in what we can call "green protectionism".

This protectionism will harm world trade, the very foundation for global economic development.

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

Last year the EU institutions adopted a directive on the promotion of the use of renewable energy, and the individual EU member states have currently notified the Commission of their national action plans for implementing it. The risk is that the directive might create a loophole for special interests with aims other than improving the environment and renewable energy production.

European domestic production of biofuels is already subsidised and protected by tariff walls. Each litre of ethanol consumed in Europe is subsidised by about €0.75 of our tax money. Each litre of biodiesel is subsidised by about €0.50. The production of ethanol is protected by tariffs of between 39 and 63 percent.

Now that the EU directive on renewable energy must be implemented in national legislation by the end of this year, the protectionism that already characterises biofuels in Europe is getting further momentum through putting up barriers against imported biofuels, such as ethanol from Brazil. This kind of policy is completely contra productive. Evidently, like all other products, biofuels should be produced and exported by those countries that have the best conditions to do so, and studies have shown that it is not possible to meet the EU's biofuels needs with domestic raw material production.

To restrict trade through high tariffs or domestic subsidies is not only incompatible with WTO rules, but would in this case also result in higher prices for consumers and higher costs for society as a whole. It is not economically sustainable to artificially encourage the production of biofuels through the aid of tariffs and subsidies. These protectionist measures also create a situation where those countries who are better suited to produce biofuels are prevented from competing with European producers and, thus, achieving economic development in their countries.

Trade conflicts where tariffs escalate in a vicious circle are destructive for global economic development. In this case, such a situation would also severely damage the environment since it is well established by the UN climate change panel that maximum global growth will result in faster reduction of emissions. So let's fight green protectionism and let the market be the driving force in combating climate change.

Christofer Fjellner is Member of the European Parliament's committees for International Trade and Environment, public health and food safety, and Johnny Munkhammar is Research Director, European Enterprise Institute.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

My 6-point plan for Belarus, by former Lithuanian PM

The suggestions below were put on paper after the inspiring and intensive consultations held in Strasbourg last week with the exiled Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, her team and MEP friends of democratic Belarus in the European Parliament.

Column

The EU's 'global gateway' - an answer to China, or a dead-end?

Will the Global Gateway become yet another dead-end? If the Green New Deal, projects to secure supplies of important minerals, the Open Strategic Economy and now this are put together, then the pieces of the puzzle could fall into place.

This 'Black Friday' is a turning point in corporate accountability

Much supply-chain abuse remains hidden from plain sight – not only to consumers but to the companies themselves, who have built increasingly longer, more complicated, and more opaque supply chains, which have become harder to monitor, control and account for.

News in Brief

  1. EU commission unveils proposal to digitalise justice systems
  2. German ICUs expected to peak at Christmas
  3. Report: First Omicron case found in the US
  4. US urges Russia to pull back troops from Ukrainian border
  5. Ukraine president calls for direct talks with Russia 'to end war'
  6. Renewable energy saw 'record year of growth'
  7. Dutch coalition talks aim for Christmas breakthrough
  8. Poland curtails media access to Belarus border

This 'Black Friday' is a turning point in corporate accountability

Much supply-chain abuse remains hidden from plain sight – not only to consumers but to the companies themselves, who have built increasingly longer, more complicated, and more opaque supply chains, which have become harder to monitor, control and account for.

The South China Sea should be of concern to Europe

If China is allowed unimpeded to break the law of the sea in the South China Sea, think about the repercussions elsewhere. It could ricochet into Europe's High North. In the Arctic, Nordic nations have overlapping claims with Russia.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. EU mulls mandatory vaccination, while urging booster for all
  2. EU unveils €300bn reply China's infrastructure programme
  3. Current global financial system is a 'dance with death'
  4. EU skirts pushbacks, suggests people seek asylum in Belarus
  5. EU warned against making 'Future EU' conference a one-off
  6. My 6-point plan for Belarus, by former Lithuanian PM
  7. No obligation to defend Ukraine from Russia, Nato chief says
  8. EU agency: 'Omicron vaccine' approval to take 3-4 months

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us