“There has never been a better moment to push the case for biofuels,” said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. “Crude oil prices remain high. We face stringent targets under the Kyoto Protocol. And the recent controversy over imports of Russian gas has underlined the importance of increasing Europe’s energy self-sufficiency. Raw materials for biofuel production also provide a potential new outlet for Europe’s farmers, who have been freed by CAP reform to become true entrepreneurs.”
Development Commissioner Louis Michel highlighted the potential opportunities that biofuels production present for developing countries, notably those affected by the sugar reform. “Many developing countries are naturally well placed for the production of biofuel feedstocks, particularly those traditionally strong in sugar production. The expanding EU market for biofuels will provide them with new export possibilities. The EU will help them maximise this opportunity with support for knowledge transfer and development of their market potential.”
The seven-point strategy provides an interesting contrast to recent discussions about biofuels here in the US: the Europeans are already discussing “next-generation” biofuels (which is smart, given the potential problems with current technologies, such as energy yield), and the potential for international economic development (we tend to focus on “energy security” and national economic impact).