Intense lobbying of EU Commissioner on biofuels

Members of Máire Geoghegan-Quinn’s cabinet argued for ‘kicking the proposal into the long grass’

Members of commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn’s cabinet in charge of research, innovation and science called for delays to the biofuel proposal last October. Photograph: Alan Betson

Members of commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn’s cabinet in charge of research, innovation and science called for delays to the biofuel proposal last October. Photograph: Alan Betson

Wed, May 8, 2013, 06:00

Biofuel firms and associations were sending three emails per hour to the cabinet of EU Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn in the run-up to a decision by the European Commission to reduce reliance on biofuels.

Documents obtained by news service EurActiv under access to information rules show that, as the lobbying reached its peak, members of her cabinet “argued for kicking the proposal into the long grass”.

The EU’s draft law on biofuels, tabled by the commission last October, signalled the end of its support for so-called first generation biofuels, which are considered the most polluting and have been blamed for displacing food crops in developing countries.

Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said at the time some biofuels being subsidised by the EU were “as bad as, or even worse than the fossil fuels that they replace”. But the documents show the Commission was “divided on the question”.

On October 10th last, members of Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn’s cabinet , in charge of research, innovation and science, called for delays to the proposal, particularly a 5 per cent limit on the amount of biofuels in the EU’s 2020 transport mix. They were unsuccessful: the proposal went ahead.

Michael Jennings, spokesman for Ms Geoghegan-Quinn, said she “fully supported the proposals . . . including the 5 per cent cap on first generation biofuels [and] championed the evidence provided by the [EU’s] Joint Research Centre”.