Opening Trialogue talks fail to grasp nettle on RED II

2 Mar 2018 | John McGarrity

Negotiators from the various EU institutions met this week in the first ‘Trialogue’ meeting on the recast of the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive, but little progress was made on the minutiae of the proposed legislation, which includes revised caps and thresholds for the crediting of biofuels.

One MEP who participated in the meeting told Energy Census that the head-to-head between the European Parliament, European Commission and European Council was mainly procedural.

However stances taken on the broad strokes of the package continue to underline major divides between the Commission and EU lawmakers on one hand, who favour an overall renewables target of 35% by 2030, and member states, who want the share of renewables in overall energy consumption to be 27% by 2030.

“[On some of the more technical aspects] Sides are seeking to get a better understanding of each other's positions,” one MEP told Energy Census.  

Industry lobbies impacted by RED told Energy Census last week that the Bulgarian presidency of the EU is keen to wrap up the talks before its six-month term expires at the end of June, whereas many MEPs reckon the complexity of the sprawling RED file could mean the talks drag on until November.

Meanwhile, Malaysia maintained its strong diplomatic push on the EU to drop plans to exclude palm oil from RED II as officials from the southeast Asian country raised the issue with Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem this week on the sidelines of an ASEAN trade ministers’ summit.

In the midst of the diplomatic onslaught, Brussels NGO Transport & Environment, which has the ear of many MEPs on the RED file, sought to remind the EU institutions of what is at stake if palm oil was to be permitted for use in the 2021-2030 phase of the RED.

“Ancient forests and wetlands are gone, the habitats of species on the brink of extinction have been destroyed and their numbers decimated and the people from and living in the forests displaced or disowned and sometimes murdered,” wrote William Todts, an executive director at T&E.

He added that with most Europeans firmly opposed to being forced to burn food, especially palm oil, in their cars, "the EU’s democratically elected politicians are well-equipped to withstand a bit of diplomatic pressure".

However a string of EU countries have said they won't support a "discriminitory" exclusion of palm oil from RED II.