A joint mission from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Colombia traveled to Brussels, Belgium, 8 to 9 April 2019, to voice their objection to the European Union’s delegated act that discriminates palm oil. It was a diplomatic mission to protect smallholders and palm oil industry.
The delegated act, adopted by the EU, categorizes palm oil as a vegetable oil posing a higher risk of deforestation than other vegetable oils (Delegated Regulation/DR Article 3 and Annex). The delegated act is a derivative regulation of the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive II (RED II) concerning biofuels.
“The methodology and hypothesis adopted by the EU concerning the risk and bad impact of palm oil to deforestation was based on flawed standard, contrary to fact, and without impact analysis,” Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution said on press release, Friday (12/4/2019).
The following are Indonesia’s objections and concerns to the delegated regulation:
- In fact, palm oil is 8-10 times more productive in oil yield and fewer in land use than other vegetable oils;
- The demand for vegetable oils is keep increasing. Should the use of palm oil be phased out, there will be massive land area conversion for other vegetable oils;
- The decision to use 2008 as the base year to measure ILUC was based on flawed reasons. The use of 2008-2015 as the time series could be detrimental to palm oil but beneficial to other vegetable oils.
Following are conclusions of the series of meeting in Brussels:
- There is a huge gap in understanding palm oil and its development policy;
- The massive negative campaign against palm oil industry has caused misconception about the product. (for example: in Italy, “Palm Oil Free” campaign is five times bigger than coca cola advertisement);
- There is a “competition” between palm oil and rapessed or sunflower oils.
The EU and palm oil producing countries has agreed to further constructive discussion to seek solution on this issue. The following actions should be possible:
- Indonesian government will have a discussion as soon as a new European Parliament is formed afresh after may 2019 election;
- Palm oil stakeholders in the EU should form a media of communications as the means of campaigning palm oil in the region.
- Multinational companies support Indonesian government to voice objection to the discriminatory practices.
At a series of meetings with EU officials, Indonesian government has also voiced its plans if the Delegated Regulation RED II enter into force, including to review relationship with the European Union as a whole and its member states as well as a WTO challenge against the EU plan.
Darmin also stated that discrimination against palm oil will have negative impact on poverty alleviation and Indonesia’s effort to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are 19,5 million workers in palm oil industry which include 2,6 million smallholders.
This joint mission was a follow-up to the letter of objection from the President of Indonesia, Malaysian Prime Minister as well as the speaker of the Indonesia’s House of Representatives. At the same time, Indonesian Oil Palm Smallholders Association (Apkasindo) and Indonesian Farmer Association (HKTI) have also voiced objection to discriminatory policy adopted by the EU. ***