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EU split in battle over biofuel tariffs

Video by Jérôme BONNARD

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-02-17

Biofuel producers in the European Union have cried foul after a Swedish company succeeded in dodging a European tax on imported ethanol. We examine the consequences for the continent's fledgling biofuel industry.

This week, Beyond Business takes you on a journey inside Europe's biofuel market.

In the fight against climate change, the European Union has adopted the world's most ambitious targets for greenhouse gas cuts. In order to achieve these goals and increase reliance on renewable energy sources, the continent has invested heavily on biofuels.

But one of the main barriers to investment remains the fear of cheap imports from the world's largest biofuel producers, namely the United States and Brazil.

While Europe has been taxing ethanol imports to encourage domestic producers and try to achieve energy independence, not all countries play by the rules. Sweden's a good example.

Stockholm's been given the greenlight from its EU partners to import Brazilian ethanol at a lower tariff than the one prevailing within the Union.

This decision infuriates European manufacturers and retailers of biofuels who've spent 5 billion euros on new infrastructure.

FRANCE 24's Jérôme Bonard discussed the matter with Maître Jean Pierre Spizer, scientific manager at the European Lawyers' Union.

Date created : 2009-02-07