Time for mandatory due diligence  

One of the four pillars that support the strategy of the European Palm Oil Alliance (EPOA) is to take the lead in EU market transformation and push for sustainable palm oil in Europe. We have put much effort in recent years into lobbying for a fully traceable certified sustainable palm oil supply chain and it’s now time to take the next step.

I strongly believe that the EPOA should be at the centre of the European political and social debate about sustainable, deforestation-free commodities.

The EPOA is one of the most eloquent voices promoting sustainable palm oil. We believe that the introduction of regulatory measures for companies that bring palm oil products into the EU market will create a level playing field for all vegetable oils and those involved in their production, and will improve the image of palm oil and the palm oil industry.

Over the years, members of the EPOA have worked hard to make the palm oil sector more sustainable and have lobbied food producers and retailers to increase their uptake of sustainably produced palm oil. As a result, most of the palm oil used in the European food industry is already deforestation free and sustainable. However, about 40% of the palm oil used in food and non-food products combined is not.

In a position paper published recently, the EPOA advocates EU-wide regulatory measures that will ensure that the palm oil supply coming into Europe is 100% sustainable and deforestation free.

Regulatory measures should be introduced in a positive manner to promote sustainable production and trade. They should not be used as an instrument of protectionism or a non-trade barrier and should help to prevent administrative burdens increasing.

Furthermore, we strongly believe that sustainable, deforestation-free production can only be achieved when there is good governance in the palm oil producing countries.

EU regulatory measures only cover our own imports. What we need is full sustainable palm oil production and uptake worldwide. The EU should support and implement programmes to foster good governance and provide assistance for smallholders in the producing countries.

I am looking forward to constructive discussions with the European Commission, politicians, and stakeholders about how to reduce the climate impact of various commodities, including palm oil, and how we can best contribute to the European Green Deal and support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Frans Claassen

Chairman European Palm Oil Alliance