Palm Oil Monitor has spent months investigating a little-known project of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Union (EU). It is a program that seeks to force Indonesian and Malaysian palm oil producers to adopt rules that will ultimately reduce the competitiveness and growth of the sector.
The projects – known as KAMI and Terpercaya – have significant EU funding behind them, dedicated teams based in Jakarta and Brussels and have even quietly aligned with USAID to push an anti-palm oil agenda.
The objectives of the programs are now more deserving of scrutiny than ever as Indonesia, Malaysia and other ASEAN countries push back on the EU’s approaches to palm oil, particularly the EU Deforestation Regulation.
Palm Oil Monitor’s investigation traces the origin of projects, their objectives, local supporters, funding, activities, how they tie into the broader anti-palm oil agenda emanating from European capitals and – most importantly – the negative impact they might have on the future of the palm oil sector.
The critical problem with the programs is that they ultimately ignore the significant efforts Indonesia and Malaysia have made towards reducing deforestation and implementing their own nationally defined certification standards and sustainability benchmarks.
What’s even worse is that the benchmarks that have been developed by the EU programs will not assist Indonesia and Malaysia in dealing with the EU’s Deforestation Regulation.
The pushback against the EU’s approach on palm oil in the region is getting more aggressive by the day. Over the past week, there have been revelations that even more senior Indonesian officials are directly accusing the EU of trampling on the palm sector, demonstrations against the EU as well as high-profile reporting outlining the problems with the EU’s approach in the region.
Our investigation comes as Indonesian and Malaysian officials have stated they may investigate EU activities on palm oil – and may cancel them and called for more resources to counter the EU campaigns.
Many questions remain over the EU’s conduct with the programs. But one answer is clear: the EU must respond. It is taking a boot to the palm industry, and the region has had enough.