A European Union (EU) committee’s decisive vote to increase the bloc’s ambition for a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in transport while leaving member states free to use crop-based biofuels in their transport energy mix, has been welcomed by trade associations representing EU biofuels, food and feed chain partners.

Adopted by a vote of 54 in favour, 14 against and six abstentions, the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) committee’s decision on 13 July largely maintains the framework for crop-based biofuels as suggested by the European Commission (EC), with a crop cap set at each member state’s 2020 final consumption of energy in transport, allowing +1% flexibility with a maximum of 7%.

A joint statement welcoming the move was released by: COCERAL, which represents trade in cereals, oilseeds, pulses, olive oil, oils and fats, animal feed and agro-supply; Copa and Cogeca, which represents European farmers and agri-cooperatives; the European Biodiesel Board (EBB), which represents the European biodiesel industry; the European renewable ethanol association (ePURE), which represents European ethanol producers; FARM Europe, a think tank that aims to promote rural economies; FEDIOL, which represents the European vegetable oil and protein meal industry; and FEFAC, which represents the European compound feed and premix industry.

“ITRE members signalled that sustainably produced crop-based biofuels do play an important role in transport decarbonisation - today and tomorrow. This is certainly an improvement over the misguided approach toward agriculture taken by the ENVI committee, which would severely reduce the cap on crop-based biofuels and create a gap in the transport energy mix that would have to be filled by imported fossil fuel,” the joint statement said.

Following the ITRE’s decision, the European Parliament will decide on the EU’s final position in September.

“With so much at stake on the issues of increasing both EU energy and feed and food autonomy as highlighted in the EU Council declaration, it is clear the Parliament needs to recognise the potential of sustainable crop-based biofuels as an important component of EU renewable energy policy and a key provider of EU protein-rich co-products for feed use until 2030 and beyond,” the joint statement said.

The associations urged the EU to “acknowledge and fully maximise” the potential of certified sustainable crop-based biofuels in reaching the new EU policy priorities and targets for food & feed and energy security, while delivering on its climate ambitions.

“Our sectors are at the crossroads of moving towards climate neutral food and feed production, fossil-fuel substitution and European energy independence, GHG emissions savings and the domestic bioeconomy. At the same time, decision-makers should recognise the synergies – between food, feed, and energy value chains in the EU,” the statement said.