Constructive and more balanced EC response on palm oil and deforestation of rainforests

Posted on: September 18, 2017

The European Commission (EC) has responded in a constructive and balanced manner to the European Parliament (EP) non-legislative resolution of 4 April 2017 on palm oil and deforestation of rainforests.

In its response to the EP’s resolution the EC writes:

  • Addressing the environmental and social challenges of deforestation and forest degradation remains an important matter for the EU;
  • The EC considers that palm oil production has to be addressed in a balanced manner, as it presents both opportunities and challenges.
  • Palm  oil  production  plays  an  important role in the economies of  producing countries and  that it contributes directly  and indirectly to lifting people out of poverty  in these countries
  • Work on deforestation needs to take into account the core causes  and  the  diverse  drivers  as  well  as  land  use  planning,  and  should  not  focus  only  on palm    Any EU action on deforestation goes beyond palm oil, looking at all drivers of deforestation. Approaches  addressing  only  a  single  driver  or  commodity  risk being ineffective and unduly differentiating between the actors involved.

EC wants to build on existing efforts of producing countries and industry initiatives

The EC response believes that any action to combat deforestation requires action at multiple levels, in  particular  working  in partnership with producer countries. The EC acknowledges the significant efforts that have been undertaken by the producing counties and believes that the EU should build on these efforts and enhance its  cooperation  with  producer  countries  towards  more  sustainable  production  of  palm  oil, and help  implementing  sustainable  forest  management  and  protection.

The  EC  welcomes  also the  initiatives  already taken  by  the  private  sector for sustainable palm oil and believes  that  there  is  a  need  to  continue  engaging  with  the  private sector  with  a  view  to  supporting  these  efforts  and  creating  additional  incentives  to achieve responsible and sustainable supply chains.

The EC highlights the existence and the important role of existing international and national initiatives to develop sustainability criteria and sustainable schemes. Developing a  single  certification  scheme  may  not  be  feasible  nor  effective  at  this  stage,  and the EC acknowledges  that  the  existence  of  different  schemes  may  better  allow  addressing national  specificities  or  consumer  preferences.  Therefore,  the EC believes that  work  on  the  issue  should  build  on  these  efforts.

On differentiation of custom duties the EC recalls the importance of ensuring consistency with WTO-rules, in particular non-discrimination in any consideration of certain process and production methods or sustainability criteria. The EC has reservations over the feasibility of amendment of the Harmonized System Nomenclatura that would allow a distinction between certified and non-certified palm oil.

Source: MVO

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