- EU pretends Deforestation Regulation isn’t discriminatory and ignores WTO requests
- Greenpeace does Brussels’ dirty work, attacks developing country cooperation
Rokas on Deforestation Regulation: Nothing to see here
EU officials are once again acting as though European discrimination against palm oil does not exist when it comes to the Deforestation Regulation. In a re-run of the ‘no palm oil ban’ statements around the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), Michelle Rokas, the EU’s Ambassador to Malaysia last week stated:
“(The law) applies equally to commodities produced in any country, including EU member states, and aims to ensure that commodity production does not drive further deforestation and forest degradation.”
This is simply not true. The law will be applied differently to countries that are considered ‘high risk’ or ‘low risk’ according to the EU’s own benchmarking system, with greater stringency applied based on the risk profiles.
President Jokowi and PM Anwar have rightly called this out as ‘discrimination’. Consider the following: if there are two groups of drivers, one European and one non-European, and the non-European drivers are consistently stopped more often by police, this would be considered discrimination.
The Rokas comments hark back to EU official comments on the RED, and the insistence that there was no palm oil ban on palm-based biofuels.
Brussels Continues to Live in Denial
A similar pattern has played out at the WTO where EU officials have ignored requests for clarification on the Deforestation Regulation – according to derestricted meeting documents.
Brazil and Paraguay first asked questions in the WTO’s Agriculture Committee in March, but the EU ‘forgot’ to respond, prompting the Latin American countries to state they “were surprised that the EU forgot to respond to the question which was raised by Brazil and two co-sponsors 3 months ago and received follow up comments from five Members.”
One of these members was Indonesia – chalk this up as another time that Brussels has ignored Jakarta.
Brazil’s comments on the regulation were direct on two particular issues. The first is the country risk benchmarking criteria:
“[The] lack of objective criteria, besides reinforcing the perception of a unilateral and arbitrary legislation …is not guided by international and consensual values and measures.”
Second is WTO compatibility:
“The proposed regulation is not compatible with WTO rules … [it] poses evident challenges to the spirit and letter of the multilateral trading system… the benchmarking system appears to be inherently discriminatory and has the potential to severely limit and distort trade. A significant number of other provisions contains elements of arbitrariness and discrimination.”
Is Greenpeace Using the EU’s Talking Points?
Greenpeace, meanwhile, has ‘lambasted’ the idea of developing countries forming a common position on the regulation, objecting to Indonesia and Malaysia’s cooperation on the issue.
And, just like the European Commission, the NGO is arguing that the regulation “does not pose a threat to trade.”
We can only assume criticism of the cooperation between two ASEAN leaders extends to the broader cooperation between 14 developing countries that have officially objected to the regulation. So much for Greenpeace’s solidarity with the Global South.
Worse still, Greenpeace says that it won’t be a threat if Indonesia “commits to stopping deforestation for palm oil.”
It seems that in addition to living denial about the threat to Indonesia’s largest export, it also refuses to accept the truth about Indonesia’s declining deforestation rate.