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EC Advances Action Against Four Countries Over Biofuels Compliance

The European Commission (EC) advanced formal proceedings against four European Union (EU) member states on Tuesday for failing to meet EU requirements under the biofuels directive.

The EU has set a target of 5.75% biofuel use in fuel consumption by 2010 with an intermediate reference value of 2% in 2005. However, the share of biofuels in the EU gasoline and diesel market was only 0.6% in 2003 and still less than 1% in 2004, according to the Commission.

Biofuels are the only known substitute for fossil fuels in transport today. They contribute to our security of energy supply, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create jobs in rural areas. Most Member States are going to great lengths to increase the use of biofuels and I regret that a small number of them have yet to join in on this effort.

—Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs

The actions taken include:

  • Sending Finland a reasoned opinion (2nd stage in the legal proceeding) for setting a 2005 intermediate target below the 2% reference value;

  • Sending Denmark a letter of formal notice (1st stage in the legal proceeding) for setting a 2005 intermediate target below the 2% reference value;

  • Sending Luxembourg a letter of formal notice due to an incomplete biofuel report for 2005; and

  • Sending Italy a reasoned opinion for its failure to submit a report.

The next step after the issuance of a reasoned opinion is bringing the matter before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

At the same time, the European Commission closed its cases against Greece, Ireland and Poland. Those countries originally set low targets for 2005 without giving adequate reasons but have adopted more ambitious targets for later years since.

The EC is still examining replies to letters of formal notice on the same subject from Hungary and the United Kingdom.

Separately, the EC send letters of formal notice to eight European countries for failing to comply with the EU renewable electricity directive, which has been in place since 2001. The directive aims at increasing the share of electricity produced from renewable energy sources to 21% by 2010.

Four countries (Italy, Poland, Czech Republic and United Kingdom) have failed to report on progress in implementing the directive, and five others (Italy, Latvia, Cyprus, Greece and Ireland) have taken insufficient measures to promote renewable energies, according to the EC.


Sid Hoffman

Quite often stories will report how the EU is superior to the USA in it's use of biofuels, emissions standards, or things of that nature. It's good to see stories like this one which highlight that for most of Europe, they're just talk, and no action. Hopefully this will embarass enough European nations to get them to comply with the biofuel initiatives they have claimed they will do.

Rafael Seidl

Actually, I'd argue the reverse. Precisely because the biofuels directive was passed, it is now mandatory for member states to adopt in their national laws. Those who fail to comply can and will be fined. It's not uncommon for a subset of member states to be laggards on any given directive, but they do usually get there in the end. In this case, it will be because they have little choice - available oil and gas supplies are limited and renewable electricity generation even more expensive.

Perhaps someday the laggards will realize that importing non-food plant oils (e.g. jathropa oil) from developing countries in the tropics would make a lot of sense.

tom deplume

Biofuels are not the only liquid fuel alternative to fossil fuels. Ammonia (NH3)is a liquid at moderate pressures and was demonstrated as a vehicle fuel in the 1930s. It was used during WWII in Belgium as diesel engine fuel. It does require a clean source of electricity to drive the process.



One of the ideas behind biofuels is to alleviate the need to import so much oil and create energy security. The French food industry is worried because the EU mandates have pushed up the prices of rapeseed oil, and in order to meet the mandate, there would be none left for cooking.

I prefer tax breaks to mandates. I regard it as a smoother way to facilitate the market.

Robert McLeod

Ammonia is highly toxic.


Not only have the british govt failed to submit a report. They also bumped up tax on veg oil as a fuel.

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