EU Policy May Harm Hungarian Development
Among the European Union’s long-standing goals is their effort to reduce global emissions. To that end they have enacted several protocols aimed to slash the continent’s carbon footprint in the coming decades.
One such measure, the proposed phase-out of first generation biofuels, is now being contested by Hungary. The nation claims that the switch away from first generation biofuels will hinder its ability to develop its rural agricultural economy.
First generation biofuels are made from crops, such as vegetables (or rather vegetable oil), animal fats, starches and sugar.
The European Commission’s Renewable Energy Directive II, not yet made into law, would reduce the cap on conventional biofuels, as well as raise the amount of low emissions fuels. First generation biofuels would be limited to just 7% of total energy consumption by 2021 and 3.8% by 2030, while low emission fuels would make up 6.8% of energy consumption by 2030.
The first Renewable Energy Directive, amended in 2015, called for just the 7% cap by 2021, and did not require that figure to drop again in 2030. It also set a goal of 10% of energy consumption coming from low emission fuels.
Budapest is concerned over the impact on rural development, given the large role played by agriculture in their economy. Hungary already has a large, trained workforce in rural areas, meaning that any disruption may have unseen negative effects on local economies and work forces.
The nation has also teamed up with the Visegrad group (Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Poland) as well as Romania and Bulgaria to officially criticize this most recent Directive. All six nations are in agreement that biofuel production is very important to their respective economies.
The Ministry of Agriculture in Hungary has not condemned every part of the new Directive. It is in support of second generation, or advanced, biofuels, made from wastes and residues, but not at the expense of first generation biofuels.
In an open letter to the press written on November 2, the Ministry emphasized the fact that the current market is well functioning, and EU interference will put Hungary, as well as its rural work force, at a ‘disadvantage’.
With so many other EU nations in support of environmental directives, it seems unlikely that little Hungary, along with the Visegrad group and Bulgaria and Romania, will get their way. It is unknown at this time just how detrimental the newest Directive would be to the local economy.