Palm oil is highly controversial within the European Union (EU) as is illustrated by regular items in public media and decisions by the European institutions, such as the European Parliament. Producing countries are hardly engaging in these public and political debates but their participation is essential to develop an effective sustainable palm oil strategy. This article reviews the recent and current debates within the EU on palm oil use for biofuels and for food and other purposes. It proves important to distinguish between these two different goals because their governance dynamics within the EU are completely different. The biofuels market is dominated by government institutions while the market for food and industrial goods is dominated by private companies and private governance initiatives. Engagement of producing countries is likely to have little impact on the EU’s biofuels policy. More opportunities exist in the market for food and other purposes, provided attention is being paid to legitimacy and accountability of producing countries’ engagement.
- European Union