European Commission begins surveillance of ethanol imports

By Erin Voegele | November 04, 2020

The European Commission on Nov. 4 announced it is beginning surveillance of imports of fuel ethanol into the European Union. ePURE, the European renewable ethanol association, has spoken out in support of the Commission’s action.

“In the context of the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, imports of bioethanol have significantly increased in the last months, at low prices,” said the Commission in its statement. “The European bioethanol industry has provided evidence that a further increase in imports would cause economic damage to the sector. The Commission has therefore taken immediate steps to enable tracking of import volumes, which will enable the bioethanol industry to better assess the situation.”

The surveillance measures will not restrict imports, and the resulting data will be made publicly available, according to the Commission. The decision to begin surveillance of EU fuel ethanol imports was made following a request made by France on behalf of the European ethanol industry. The Commission said the ethanol industry has provided sufficient information showing that there was a recent and significant increase in imports, and indications that these imports would cause economic injury.

The implementing act published on Nov. 4 provides for surveillance from all countries of origin for a period of one year. The import statistics will be published on the Commission’s website monthly.

ePURE said the monitoring of fuel ethanol imports will “facilitate a prompt and effective reaction in case the threat related to increased imports materializes.”

“COVID-19 market disturbances have created conditions that could accelerate the flow of imports into the EU – at unprecedented levels – once the crisis abates,” said Emmanuel Desplechin, secretary-general of ePURE. “In fact, due to the COVID-19 market disturbances, foreign fuel ethanol producers have accumulated significant stocks and are eager to sell them off by all means.”

“The EU renewable ethanol industry is a strategic sector for the European Union and contributes directly and indirectly to the employment of at least 50,000 people,” Desplechin added. “It plays a significant role in tackling climate change and decarbonizing the transport sector, which are among the top priorities of the EU. Renewable ethanol production is also an important source of income for Europe’s farmers, and it boosts rural economies.”

Additional information is available on the Commission’s website.