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Biofuels Policy and Legislation

A number of directives cover biofuels use in the EU including the Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EC, the Fuel Quality Directive and the Biofuels Directive 2003. Relevant communications and links to further information on biofuels legislation are included below.

EC Communication on Climate And Energy Polic Framework 2020-2030 (Jan 2014)

On 23 January 2014 the EC published a communication: A policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2030 This is summarised in an accompanying EC press release

Of particular relevance to biofuels was Q&A 12:

"The future of EU transport development should be based on alternative, sustainable fuels as an integrated part of a more holistic approach to the transport sector. The Commission has therefore not proposed new targets for the transport sector after 2020 (current targets: 10% renewable energy for the transport sector. The share of renewables in transport rose to 4.7% in 2010 from 1.2% in 2005). Based on the lessons of the existing target and on the assessment of how to minimise indirect land-use change emissions, it is clear that first generation biofuels have a limited role in decarbonising the transport sector. A range of alternative renewable fuels and a mix of targeted policy measures building on the Transport White Paper are thus needed to address the challenges of the transport sector in a 2030 perspective and beyond."

EC communication on Energy Technologies and Innovation (May 2013)

On 2 May 3013 the EC published a Communication on Energy Technologies and Innovation SWD(2013) 157 final / SWD(2013) 158 final. The plan - updating the existing SET-Plan - aims to bridge the gap between research and market deployment and provide a boost for a wider range of energy technologies, including the cutting of energy consumption, and innovation in energy storage, radioactive waste management and alternative fuels, as well as renewable cooling and concentrated solar thermal power for industrial heating. A strengthened SET Plan steering group will develop a roadmap for energy innovation by the end of this year. An action plan of investments should follow by next summer. The new plan would be financed through the EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme and other sources such as the European Investment Bank and the Connecting Europe Facility. Funding would also come from the member states and the private sector.

European Council (12 December 2013) failure to reach compromise on iLUC regulations following the MEP vote on capping 'first generation' biofuels (September 2013), and the EC proposal to minimise the climate impact of biofuels (October 2012) and alternative fuels strategy (January 2013)

On 12 December the European Council failed to reach an agreement on a compromise proposal put forward by the Lithuanian Presidency, based on a 7% cap on conventional biofuels. It is now unlikely that any final decision will be possible before the European Parliamentary elections in May 2014, which may delay any final decision on the proposal until the end of 2014.

On 11 September 2013 a narrow majority of MEPs voted that "first generation" biofuels should not exceed 6% of the final energy consumption in transport by 2020, as opposed to the current 10% target in existing legislation, while advanced biofuels should represent at least 2.5% of energy consumption in transport by 2020. The MEP vote also endorsed double-counting of biofuels produced from UCO or animal wastes and a minimum 7.5% limit of ethanol in gasoline. Finally, they decided to include an iLUC factor in the Fuel Quality Directive methodology as of 2020.

Rapporteur Ms Lepage was two votes short of receiving a mandate to negotiate with member states, who will now seek a common position of their own. If different to Parliament's first reading text, a second reading will be required. This could delay the decision-making process to the second half of 2014, and risks continued uncertainty among advanced biofuels investors and member states. This will make it harder for demonstration and flagship plants to secure the funding needed for commissioning in Europe, and potentially puts on hold the creation of 1000s of new jobs in the European Bioeconomy.

On 16 October 2013 the European Parliament Intergroup on 'Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development' held a workshop entitled 'The future of Biofuels as alternative fuel for the transport sector'. A summary report and presentations are now available.

On 24th January 2013 the EC published COM(2013) 17 Clean Power for Transport: A European Alternative Fuels Strategy, which encompasses biofuels as well as LNG, SNG, electricity and hydrogen. See also the Press Release Europe Launches Clean Fuel Strategy. The strategy document advocates support for sustainable advanced biofuels produced from lignocellulosic feedstocks and wastes, as well as algae and microorganisms. It recommends no further public support for first generation biofuels produced from food crops after 2020.

This follows the publication in October 2012 of a proposal to minimise the climate impact of biofuels, by amending the current legislation on biofuels through the Renewable Energy and the Fuel Quality Directives. In particular, the proposals suggest:

  • To increase the minimum greenhouse gas saving threshold for new installations to 60% in order to improve the efficiency of biofuel production processes as well as discouraging further investments in installations with low greenhouse gas performance.
  • To include indirect land use change (ILUC) factors in the reporting by fuel suppliers and Member States of greenhouse gas savings of biofuels and bioliquids;
  • To limit the amount of food crop-based biofuels and bioliquids that can be counted towards the EU's 10% target for renewable energy in the transport sector by 2020, to the current consumption level, 5% up to 2020, while keeping the overall renewable energy and carbon intensity reduction targets;
  • To provide market incentives for biofuels with no or low indirect land use change emissions, and in particular the 2nd and 3rd generation biofuels produced from feedstock that do not create an additional demand for land, including algae, straw, and various types of waste, as they will contribute more towards the 10% renewable energy in transport target of the Renewable Energy Directive.

pdf icon EBTP comments on the RED / FQD Review - a consensus of comments made by members of EBTP Working Group 4 Policy and Sustainability as well as members of the EBTP Steering Committee.

Presentations from the 5th Stakeholder Plenary Meeting of EBTP in February 2013

pdf icon EBTP general views on the RED and FQD review
Marc Gillmann, Chair EBTP WG4 - Policy and Sustainability;
Total Supply and Marketing, Stratégie biocarburants et développement agricole

pdf icon Existing policy framework and proposal to review RED and FQD to take ILUC of biofuels into account

Øyvind Vessia, Policy Officer, Unit C1 Renewables and CCS Policy, DG ENER, European Commission

EC Policies and intiatives relating to biofuels

Biofuels are covered by a number of existing EU policies and initiatives on bioenergy, sustainable transport and the wider bioeconomy, for example: the SET Plan; the European Industrial Bioenergy Initiative; Energy 2020 A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy; and the Strategy for a Sustainable European Bioeconomy.

Further links are included below:

Background Information and EU Policy >>

Europa pages on Bioenergy and Biofuels >>

Directives and Communications >>

Older legislation >>


Background information and EU Policy

Relevant EU policy documents and links include:

SET plan

Communication on Energy Technologies and Innovation SWD(2013) 157 final / SWD(2013) 158 final (May 2013)

JRC support to the SET Plan

Energy 2020 A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy

Strategy for a Sustainable European Bioeconomy

A resource-efficient Europe – Flagship initiative of the Europe 2020 Strategy

Strategic Energy Technologies Information System (SETIS)

See also MEMO/09/437 – Questions and answers

Renewable Energy Road Map

EU Strategy for Biofuels (2006)

Clean Vehicles Directive

Emission performance standards for new cars

Climate Change: 2050 - the future begins today


Europa pages on bioenergy and biofuels


Bioenergy: Sustainability Criteria

Bioenergy Installations / Permits

National Biomass Action Plans

Bioenergy Demonstration Projects

Biofuels and other renewable energy sources in the transport sector

Member States Reports on biofuels and renewable energy in transport

Biofuels standards

Biofuels sustainability criteria

Biofuels demonstration projects


Directives and Communications

Further information on European Legislation is available through EUR-Lex the portal to European Union law. EUR-Lex provides direct free access to European Union law. The system makes it possible to consult the Official Journal of the European Union and it includes inter alia the treaties, legislation, case-law and legislative proposals. It offers extensive search facilities.

2011 Progress Reports on Member States implementation of biouels and bioelectricity

The EC Transparency Platform page includes the National Renewable Energy Action Plans for all member states as well as important reports and communications on sustainable cultivation and use of biomass, bioenergy and biofuels, as follows:

EC communications and directives on biofuels and bioenergy

'Anti-dumping' duties

As of 27 November 2013 the EU will impose definitive anti-dumping duties on imports of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia. The antidumping measures consist of an additional duty of on average 24.6% for Argentina and 18.9% for Indonesia. The measures are based on a decision taken this week by the Council, following a 15-month investigation carried out by the European Commission. It revealed that Argentine and Indonesian biodiesel producers were dumping their products on the EU market. The dumped exports had a significant negative effect on the financial and operational performance of European producers.

COMMISSION REGULATION (EC) No 193/2009 imposing a provisional anti-dumping duty on imports of biodiesel originating in the United States of America

  • EC procedure started 13 June 2008 on initiative of
    European Biodiesel Board
  • Background: subsidies for B99 in the US
  • Anti-dumping and countervailing duties approved
    on 11 Mar 2009 and published 12 Mar 2009 (EC 193
    and 194/2009), differentiated by producer
  • Anti dumping duty 23.6-208.2 €/t
  • Countervailing duty 211.2-237.0 €/t

Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EC

Renewable Energy Directive

  • Approval by European Parliament on 17 Dec 2008
  • By 2020, 20 % share of RES in final energy consumption, 20 % increase in energy efficiency
  • 10 % target for RES in transport in each Member State
  • National Renewable Energy Action Plans required by June 2010
  • Burden sharing for RES targets except transport
  • Harmonised approach with Fuel Quality Directive
  • No biofuels from carbon rich or biodiverse land
  • EC has to report on compliance with environmental and social sustainability criteria of major biofuel exporting countries
  • Minimum GHG reduction for biofuels 35 % and 50 % from 2017 on; 60 % for new installations from 2017 on. For plants operating in Jan 2008 GHG requirement will start in Apr 2013
  • Bonus of 29 g CO2/MJ for biofuels from degraded/contaminated land
  • EC proposal for incorporating indirect land use changes by the end of 2010; special clauses for plants built before 2013
  • Biofuels from waste, residues, non food cellulosic material, and lignocellulosic material will count twice for RES transport target
  • Mass balance approach for certification of sustainability
  • EC will negotiate bilateral and multilateral agreements
  • Establishment of a committee for sustainability of biofuels

DIRECTIVE 2009/30/EC - amendment to Directive 98/70/EC on environmental quality standards for fuel (Fuel Quality Directive)

The amendement to the Fuel Quality Directive aims at:

  • further tightening environmental quality standards for a number of fuel parameters,
  • enabling more widespread use of ethanol in petrol and
  • introducing a mechanism for reporting and reduction of the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions from fuel
  • Reduction in life cycle GHG emissions from energy supplied. Binding target of 6% as first step while leaving open the possibility for increasing the future level of ambition to 10%.
  • To that effect, in a 2012 review, the Commission will need to assess a further increase of the ambition level of 2% from other technological advances, such as the supply of electricity for use in transport. A further 2% is envisaged to be achieved by the use of CDM credits for flaring reductions not linked to EU oil consumption.
  • Incorporation of sustainability criteria for biofuels used to meet GHG reduction requirement. Creation of specific Committee jointly with the RED to coordinate the energy and environment aspects in future development of biofuel sustainability criteria.
  • Reduction of sulphur content of inland waterway fuel in one step to 10ppm by 1 January 2011.
  • Phasing in of 10% Ethanol (E10) petrol: To avoid potential damage to old cars, continued marketing of petrol containing maximum 5% ethanol guaranteed until 2013, with the possibility of an extension to that date if needed.
  • Derogations for petrol vapour pressure for cold summer conditions and blending in of ethanol are subject to Commission approval following an assessment of the socio-economic and environmental impacts, in particular on air quality.
  • Increase of allowed biodiesel content in diesel to 7% (B7) by volume, with an option for more than 7% with consumer info.

Emission performance standards for new passenger cars

  • 130 g/120 g CO2/km limit for new cars in 2012 (10 g by additional measures)
  • Limit of 95 g CO2/km in 2020
  • Step by step approach; bonus for eco innovations
  • 5 % bonus for E85 cars until Dec 2015 if sustainable E85 is available at least at 30 % of all filling stations of the Member State where the car is registered

Archive Legislation

Some previous legislative and related documents are listed below. The entries are divided into the following sections:



COM(2007) 18 . Proposal, of  31 January 2007, for a DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL amending Directive 98/70/EC as regards the specification of petrol, diesel and gas-oil and the introduction of a mechanism to monitor and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the use of road transport fuels and amending Council Directive 1999/32/EC, as regards the specification of fuel used by inland waterway vessels and repealing Directive 93/12/EEC
download (PDF 88Kb)

Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on The development and promotion of alternative fuels for road transport in the European Union OJ C 195, 18.8.2006

COM 2003/30/EC ("Biofuels Directive") of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 May 2003 on the promotion of the use of biofuels or other renewable fuels for transport Official Journal L 123, 17/05/2003 P. 0042 - 0046

COM/2001/0547 final Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on alternative fuels for road transportation and on a set of measures to promote the use of biofuels

COM(2001) 547 final: Communication of the European Commission of 07/11/2001 on an Action Plan and two Proposals for Directives to foster the use of Alternative Fuels for Transport, starting with the regulatory and fiscal promotion of biofuels

Directive 98/70/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 1998 relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and amending Council Directive 93/12/EEC  OJ L 350, 28.12.1998, p. 58–68

Commission Directive 87/441/EEC of 29 July 1987 on crude-oil savings through the use of substitute fuel components in petrol  OJ L 238, 21.8.1987, p. 40–41


Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on the Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the promotion of clean road transport vehicles  OJ C 229, 22.9.2006, p. 18–21

Directive 98/69/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 1998 relating to measures to be taken against air pollution by emissions from motor vehicles and amending Council Directive 70/220/EEC,  OJ L 350, 28.12.1998, p. 1–57


Council Directive 2003/96/EC of 27 October 2003 restructuring the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity (Text with EEA relevance) OJ L 283, 31.10.2003, p. 51–70

2003/238/EC: Commission Decision of 15 May 2002 on the aid scheme implemented by France applying a differentiated rate of excise duty to biofuels (notified under document number C(2002) 1866)  Official Journal L 094 , 10/04/2003 P. 0001 - 0042

2002/550/EC: Council Decision of 27 June 2002 authorising the United Kingdom to apply a differentiated rate of excise duty to fuels containing biodiesel in accordance with Article 8(4) of Directive 92/81/EEC  OJ L 180, 10.7.2002, p. 20–21

Commission Regulation (EC) No 2546/95 of 30 October 1995 amending Commission Regulation (EC) No 3199/93 on the mutual recognition of procedures for the complete denaturing of alcohol for the purposes of exemption from excise duty OJ L 260, 31.10.1995, p. 45–46