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French and German oilseed farmers press for continuation of first generation biofuels objectives post-2020

French and German oilseed associations, FOP and UFOP, urge the European Commission (EC) to maintain the mandatory first generation biofuels objectives in the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) after 2020. The EC's "winter package" proposals could otherwise lead to the end of the first generation biofuels sector, a drop in oilseed prices and reduced EU rapeseed acreage, the duo warn.

Flowering rapeseed risks becoming a rarer sight in the European agricultural landscape if EC's post 2020 proposal for first generation biofuels is passed warn oilseed stakeholders (photo courtesy UFOP).

Flowering rapeseed risks becoming a rarer sight in the European agricultural landscape if EC’s post 2020 proposal for first generation biofuels is passed warn oilseed stakeholders (photo courtesy UFOP).

In a joint statement, representatives of the French Federation of oilseeds and proteins crop producers (FOP) and the German Union for the promotion of oil and protein plants (UFOP), urge the European Commission (EC) to maintain the mandatory first generation biofuels objectives in the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) after 2020.

The European Commission’s (EC’s) “winter package” proposals could otherwise lead to the end of the first generation biofuels sector, a drop in oilseed prices and reduced rapeseed acreage in the European Union (EU), the FOP and UFOP warn. FOP and UFOP are the major trade organisations for oilseed and protein crops in France and Germany, the largest oilseed producers in the EU.

The statement is the outcome of a meeting between the two organisations held in Berlin, Germany earlier in the week. UFOP and FOP focused their meeting on the last energy proposals from the EC. In its “winter package”, the EC proposed to limit and decrease the usage of first generation biofuels, from 7 percent in 2020 to 3.8 percent in 2030. In addition, the EC proposed to introduce mandatory objectives for advanced biofuels while at same time scaling back objectives in the transport sector.

Acknowledge the benefits

FOP and UFOP ask for the continuation of mandatory first generation biofuels objectives in the renewable energy directive for 2020 – 2030 saying that it is conditional in order to give prospects to farmers and biofuel producers while tackling the ambitious renewable energy objectives announced for 2030. The organisations point that the development of renewable energies does not have to compromise with existing oilseed-derived biofuels, an acknowledgement of their benefits such as protein co-production and their promotion in addition to advanced biofuels.

According to the duo, the outlets for oilseed producers are directly threatened by these proposals. With no objectives in transport, the proposals could lead to the end of the first generation biofuels sector and will lead to a fall in oilseed prices, which will lead to a decrease of rapeseed acreage at a European level.

Both organisations dispute the EC’s analysis and draw attention to the consequences for European agriculture. The limitation will result in a worsening of the existing European plant protein deficit and will have an impact as regards diversity of crop rotations. For FOP and UFOP, the European ambition must result in the mandatory objective of 7 percent for first generation biofuels with co-production of protein and feed, a long term development of advanced renewable energies in addition to first generation biofuels and the fixing of targets for transport.

FOP and UFOP point out that availability of advanced biofuels in sufficient volumes is still several years out with current development “at best in progress” and profitability remains as of yet unproven. In light of this the duo suggest that the EC should include a 2025 advanced biofuels progress review. However, UFOP and FOP also stress that first generation biofuels, that are not competing with food production in Europe and have a high level of sustainability, already exist and are necessary for the realisation of ambitious renewable energy objectives, in particular for transport.

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