8 February 2006

The European Commission adopted the “EU Strategy for Biofuels” with a range of potential market-based, legislative and research measures to boost production of fuels from agricultural raw materials. The paper, which builds on the biomass action plan adopted in December 2005, sets out three main objectives: (1) to promote biofuels in both the EU and developing countries; (2) to prepare for large-scale use of biofuels by improving their cost-competitiveness and increasing research into “second generation” fuels; and (3) to support developing countries where biofuel production could stimulate sustainable economic growth.

Increased use of biofuels is expected to reduce Europe’s dependence on fossil fuel imports, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and open new economic possibilities in Europe and in several developing countries. The Strategy selects seven key policy areas to promote the production and use of biofuels:

  1. Stimulating demand for biofuels: A report will be published in 2006 on a possible revision of the biofuels directive; Member States must be encouraged to favour biofuels (including second generation products).
  2. Capturing environmental benefits: The Commission will examine how biofuels can best contribute to emission targets; work to ensure sustainability of biofuel feedstock cultivation; and look again at limits on biofuel content in gasoline and diesel.
  3. Developing production and distribution of biofuels: The Commission will propose a specific group to consider biofuels opportunities in rural development programmes.
  4. Extending supplies of feedstock: The Commission will assess possibilities to process cereal intervention stocks; bring forward a forestry action plan; and look into the possibilities for using animal by-products and clean waste.
  5. Enhancing trade opportunities: The Commission will assess the possibility of putting forward a proposal for separate customs codes for biofuels; and propose amendments to the “biodiesel standard”.
  6. Supporting developing countries: The Commission will ensure that measures for ACP Sugar Protocol countries affected by the EU sugar reform can be used to support the development of bioethanol production; and develop a coherent Biofuels Assistance Package for developing countries.
  7. Research and development: The Commission will continue to support the development of an industry-led Biofuel Technology Platform which will make recommendations for research in this sector. Biofuels will have a high priority in the 7th Framework Programme, in particular the “bio-refinery” concept (finding valuable uses for all parts of the plant) and second generation biofuels, such as ligno-cellulosic ethanol, Fischer-Tropsch biodiesel and bio-dimethyl ether.

Source: European Commission