Former minister for the environment Dick Roche has been lobbying MEPs on behalf of a Hungarian ethanol producer ahead of a European Parliament decision today on a proposed cap on the use of biofuels for transport.
In a letter to MEPs, Mr Roche claims that the European Commission's proposal for a 10 per cent cap on crop-based biofuels could cause "extraordinary damage" to the industry in Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and in Croatia.
He tells MEPs that he drew this conclusion after being asked by Hungarian ethanol producer Pannonia to "look into the potential impact of the Commission's proposals" and travelled to Dunafoldvar, in central Hungary, to visit its major plant and meet officials there.
'Very real insight'
The former minister says this trip "gave me a very real insight into the extraordinary damage that could arise from the Commission proposals and the really negative effects that they could have on rural communities" in central and southeastern Europe.
"As Minister for the Environment and Minister for European Affairs in Ireland, I was involved in the discussions on EU renewable energy, the role that biofuels could play in meeting EU climate change objectives and in reducing dependence on fuel imports," he writes.
“As they stand, the Commission proposals have the potential to damage not only Hungarian ethanol production but also could undermine the very substantial potential that exists in Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and in Croatia,” according to his letter.
Mr Roche cites a “peer-reviewed economic analysis” suggesting that expanding production of ethanol “could result in approximately 15,000 new industrial and service sector jobs being created and an additional €4 billion [in] GDP.”
Mr Rochecould not be reached this week to comment on the matter.