A central European group of biofuel producers is calling for the EU to maintain the share of crop-based fuel in its Renewable Energy Directive II (RED II), while supporting the removal of palm oil from the list of sustainable fuels.

The Visegrad 4+3 (V4+3) group – representing biofuel associations and companies from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia – urged the EU to ensure the use of proven crop-based fuels was not reduced or capped and they would have a 12% share in transport by 2030, a 25 April statement said.

The group specified that the 12% share would need to be an actual percentage of total biofuel use without multiple counting which, according to V4+3, supported fossil fuels and increased their market share, prohibiting private investment in renewables.

“Our investments are, quite simply, responsible for basically all of the greenhouse gas (GHG) savings in our region’s transport sector in the past decade,” the group said.

“With a grounded RED II, we would continue to invest, including in exactly the advanced biofuels that everyone is hoping will flourish and become viable in coming years. With a bad policy, we will not invest.”

Under the current RED II proposal, all biofuel feedstocks in the EU must come from a country in good standing under the Paris climate agreement, with the further requirement that woody biomass used for purposes other than transport had to originate in a country that was ratified and in good standing.

According to V4+3, the same sustainability requirements had to be given to all biomass under the RED II in order for the requirement to be legal in the first place.

“Applying this restriction selectively not only makes no climate sense but would also invalidate the restriction under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules,” V4+3 said.

The group also gave its support for the proposal to remove the sustainable status of palm oil-based biodiesel, but advised that the legal text should give a clear reason for the phase-out to withstand any legal challenges.

“Palm oil drives peatland drainage, [which] is a far more devastating climate even than any other land use change, including all other forms of tropical deforestation due to soil oxidation,” the group said.

A well-structured palm oil “ban” was likely to survive any WTO challenge, it added.