Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Questions (75)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

75. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the reason there was a change in commitment regarding a bio-fuels cap as given in a previous parliamentary question, where he committed to supporting a 5% cap but is now supporting a 7% cap; when and how did he change his commitment to this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45302/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

My colleague, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, has the lead on Government policy in relation to bio-fuels and the negotiation of EU policy on bio-fuels. This includes the ongoing consideration of the European Commission's proposal to limit the use of foodcrop-based bio-fuels in transport to 5% by 2020. Ireland, during our EU Presidency, worked hard to facilitate consensus on this complex issue. The Council has yet to arrive at an agreed position. A significant number of Member States have argued for either no cap or a cap in excess of 5% on these first generation bio-fuels. My officials have been advised by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources that in the interests of facilitating negotiations with the European Parliament, with a view to reaching an agreement as quickly as possible on the proposal from the Commission, Ireland has given its support to a compromise proposal from the Lithuanian EU Presidency for a 7% cap. The European Parliament voted last month for a cap on first generation bio-fuels of 6%.

As I have stated in response to previous Questions on this subject, I share concerns that bio-fuel production, unless properly regulated, can have a negative impact on food production and food prices, especially in developing countries. I will continue to follow this matter closely.