The European Commission is investigating alleged fraudulent biofuel imports from China following a complaint from a member country’s government, a spokesman for the EU executive told AFP on Monday.
“Indications of possible fraud have been received from market participants in connection with biofuels certified as sustainable,” he said.
The commission “is looking into the suspected cases,” in cooperation with the complaining member state, he said, adding that no quantities about the imports would be given as the probe was under way.
A source with knowledge of the matter said the complaint was made by Germany.
Biofuels, made from animal or plant waste such as vegetable oils, farm byproducts and animal fats, are considered more environmentally friendly than fuels made from fossil deposits.
The commission spokesman said that “fuel suppliers operate on international markets for both fossil and biogenic fuels” and that the commission “invites all economic actors involved in the biofuels market to cooperate fully with the investigation and report any suspicious activities”.
“The EU takes any allegations of fraud very seriously and will not hesitate to take appropriate action to protect the integrity of its biofuels market,” he said.
An industry group for biofuels, the European Waste-based and Advanced Biofuels Association, in a letter sent to the commission and the German government last week, spoke of a “dire” situation because of Chinese biodiesel imports into the EU.
“A recent enormous spike of Chinese exports of biodiesel, with volumes deemed to be potentially fraudulent, has depressed biodiesel markets across the EU,” leading to plant closures, the letter said.
It said only waste-based biofuels “whose sustainability and traceability are beyond doubt” should be promoted in the European Union.
Unless steps are taken to curb the use of voluntary certificates for doubtful fuels coming from countries outside the EU, “we will soon be on a path which will irremediably spiral into the complete collapse of the EU industry”, it said.
© Agence France-Presse