Import of Biofuels into and the Marketing off Biofuels in the European Union: an Analysis of the Current Law on Customs, Energy Taxes and Biofuel Quotas

Stein, Roland M.
November 2008
Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law;Nov2008, Vol. 26 Issue 4, p600
Academic Journal
Currently, there is an ongoing discussion about the pros and cons of biofuels. However it is an inalienable fact that it is not realistic to reduce greenhouse gases in the transport sector using current fuels. Therefore, biofuels have to be promoted. In order to increase the use of bio fuels it is first important to produce more bio fuels at both the national and the European level. Secondly, however imports of bio fuels from countries outside the European Union have to increase. This article analyses the implications of importing these products into the European Union from the perspective of customs and energy tax law as well as the so-called biofuel quota. Under current European customs law there is no single classification for bio fuels. Depending on their chemical make-up, biofuels are treated as chemical or agricultural products. While bioethanol is classified as alcohol, the classification of vegetable oil depends on its intended use. The classification of biodiesel differs depending on whether it is pure biodiesel or not. Once a biofuel is within the European Union, it may be regarded as an energy product. This is the case when the product is suitable for use and is used as a fuel. In this case, the biofuel may be subject to energy tax. Some European Member States grant tax relief but others, eg, in a recent move, Germany, only grant tax relief for unmixed products. The increase of the minimum level of biofuel that is put into circulation on the internal market is a target set out by the European Union. To achieve this aim, the German and other governments introduced bio fuel quotas. Companies have to guarantee a particular minimum bio fuel quota each calendar year. This quota may be satisfied by placing pure biodiesel on the market or by mixing it into mineral fuels. Furthermore, companies may trade in quotas. In the future, certain sustainability requirements will play an important role.


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