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Palm Oil: Why does the European Commission violate the EU's own competition laws

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Written By Frank Tate
Friday, 20 July 2012

One disquieting feature of the anti-palm oil campaigns carried out for the past half a decade by environmental NGOs has been the unseen hand of the European Commission behind them all! How did the European Commission, who had loudly taken to court corporations like Microsoft that they alleged, have broken the EU’s competition laws descended to such levels where the Commission now stands accused of violating those same laws?

An Italian Think Tank, Libertiamo thinks they have uncovered the reason.  In a report called “Taxpayer Funding, NGO Collusion and Manufactured Crises: A Case Study of Malaysia and Palm Oil,” Libertiamo points out that the European Commission has, since 2005, poured millions of Euros on environmental organizations to attack palm oil.

Observed Libertiamo, green NGOs propose these palm oil campaigns to the Environmental Directorate of the European Commission (EC) for the sole purpose of winning funding that runs into the millions of Euros.  The EC overtly supports these campaigns ostensibly to promote healthy environmental practices in the developing world. Cynically and covertly however, the real intent of the Commission is to protect the EU’s indigenous edible oilseed industries like rapeseed and sunflower which are otherwise unable to compete in the open market against the hyper yielding palm oil, despite being fully cognizant and aware that the palm oil campaigns are based on creative and manufactured evidence!

Says Libertiamo: “Despite evidence of a positive environmental record, NGOs have campaigned against the palm oil industry using it as an easy target to prosecute their case…”

“There is no dispute that the palm oil industry has grown. It is a major agricultural export for countries that produce it because of strong performance as a crop. But the criticisms against the industry are regularly based on claims manufactured by EU NGOs that are not backed up by hard evidence,” notes Libertiamo!

Libertiamo points out, “These green NGOs have become peddlers of half truths to drive donations and attract government largesse. And donor governments support them, in the interest of uncompetitive domestic industries…”

Prior to the Libertiamo report, evidence had already been emerging that EU governments have shown extreme mala fides and bad faith in trying to erect artificial trade barriers, in an effort to protect their indigenous edible oil industries against the palm oil juggernaut, in clear violation of the EU’s competition laws and WTO rules.

For instance, In 2005, the oddly named Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) published a “report” called “Cruel Oil: How palm oil harms health, rainforest and wildlife” in which they made wild and unsubstantiated claims that palm oil cultivation was causing massive deforestation and threatening the extinction of biodiversity such as the orang utan.
The report was prepared with the assistance of Aid Environment listed as partners with Hivos — a Netherlands based civil society group with direct links to campaigns in Indonesia. Hivos, in turn, is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for close to 67% of its annual 100m Euro budget.

Of more recent vintage, a March 2010 report by researchers C. Boin and Andrea Marchesetti entitled “Friends of the EU.” (see: policynetwork.net/accountability/publication/friends-eu) showed that the EU, through the EU Commission and its Environmental Directorates is involved in funding up to 70% of the operating budgets of FOE EU.

In our view, the main drivers for these covert anti-palm oil campaigns are EU governments and the European Commission working in concert with them, in a desperate move to protect their indigenous edible oil producers who cannot compete on a level ground with the hyper yielding palm oil. So much for free competition and fair trade rules! THE END



 

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