Clarification of the European Commission’s Position on the Renewable Energy Directive

August 2010 – Green Papers: Issue V

The European Renewable Energy Directive has been subject to considerable ‘negotiation’ and gamesmanship. The controversies arise over the use and import of biofuels. What is becoming increasingly clear is the extent and depth of friction between competing interests upon which the Directive impacts. Earlier this year, Environmental NGOs protested that the European Commission was set to define oil palms as forests for the purposes of the Directive. Ultimately, the EC released a Communication which ‘excluded’ oil palms from the definition of forests.  The reality is that this does not change things. The EC Communication is not binding and does not alter the definition of ‘forest’ in the Directive – under which oil palms could qualify. This is just one, and by no means the most important, of the problems being generated by the Directive. It has pitched the widely varying interest of environmental, farm, trade, consumer, renewable energy and transport groups, and the multitude of EC Committees which represent those interests, against each other.

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