The European Commission (EC)’s cap on conventional biofuels is “unorthodox” as it deprives farmers of a potential market outside the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Euractiv quoted the head of an EU farmers’ association as saying on 19 May.

“The Commission is taking a very ultra-orthodox approach to the sustainability criteria,” Pekka Pesonen, secretary-general of the EU farmers and cooperatives association (COPA-COGECA) said.

The EU executive is currently revisiting the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) as part of the EU Green Deal to decarbonise the EU transport sector and other industries.

Crop-based biofuels, such as biodiesel and bioethanol, are one way to decarbonise the sector but the EC has set a 7% cap on them, citing sustainability reasons, such as indirect land use change (ILUC), Euractiv reported.

“If we stick to the 7% cap, we lose a potential market outside the CAP. And that’s why we encourage European institutions to revise it upwards,” Pesonen said.

These artificial limitations did not respect the “real world” and resulted in the creation of a bottleneck for the sector to utilise its full potential, according to Pesonen.

“It’s a valuable addition to crop rotation, we can actually reduce the use of mineral fertilisers to a certain extent, and it actually provides a valuable addition to the agricultural activity,” he said.

“On the forest side, we have a very good track record in increasing our forest cover and also carbon stock. And in fact, we have heavier timber in our forests, thanks to management practices,” he added.

Euractiv said it had been informed that the Confederation of European Forest Owners and COPA-COGECA had sent a letter to Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans warning that the ongoing debate over RED II revision and forest biomass did not reflect the sector’s success stories.

Meanwhile, such a market could potentially generate extra income for farmers, according to Pesonen.