The European Council of Ministers of Transport approved on 8th April the biofuels directive already adopted by the European Parliament. Member States must transpose this directive into national laws before 31st December 2004.
The directive lays down targets for the progressive introduction of biofuels derived from agricultural, forestry and organic waste products between now and 2010. For the first time, each Member State will have to set targets for the market share of biofuels.
These targets will have to be based on challenging benchmarks set by the directive : 2% market share by December 2005 ; 5,75% market share by December 2010. Any country setting lower targets will have to justify them using objective criteria.
Member States must announce by July 2004 the first biofuel targets to be achieved by December 2005. The Commission will undertake an evaluation on the implementation of the Directive before the end of 2006 and will then deceide whether further legislative proposals are required.
Biofuels being currently more expensive to produce than petrol or diesel, the Commission has proposed that Member States should have greater powers to levy lower fuel duties on biofuels to enable them to be affordable to individual or corporate buyers.
The use of biofuels can help to reduce European greenhouse gas emissions, as agreed in the Kyoto protocol. The CO2 emissions produced by using biofuels in transport are balanced by the CO2 absorbed by the plants as they grew, before being made into biofuels.