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NEWS: European Commission approves including tar sands in EFQD

Patterson speaking to MEPs on the EFQD, January 2011

Patterson speaking to MEPs on the EFQD, January 2011

Reuters reports that, “The European Commission has approved including tar sands in the European Union’s fuel quality directive, an EU source told Reuters on Tuesday. …A decision on whether to include tar sands in the directive was delayed for a year after Canada warned the EU’s standards to promote greener fuels would harm the market for its oil sands.”

We are told that the proposal has to be adopted by a committee of Member States in the next few months. After the proposal is approved, the European Parliament has three months to approve or reject the whole proposal without amendments. It is expected that the Harper government will intensify its lobbying efforts against the EFQD.

On September 20, the Wall Street Journal reported, “Canada claims (the European Fuel Quality Directive) would unfairly penalize oil sands crude, and says it could refer Brussels to the World Trade Organization if the legislation isn’t changed. ‘If the EU proceeds with an approach that’s going to discriminate against oil sands, we would look to protect our interests, and that includes through international institutions like the WTO,’ said Steve Verheul, Canada’s chief trade negotiator with the EU (on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA), in an interview on Monday.”

In terms of additional background:

November 4, 2010: The Council of Canadians and the Indigenous Environmental Network launch a legal opinion by Steven Shrybman titled, Potential Impacts of the Proposed Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement on the Pace and Character of Oil Sands Development. Shrybman writes, “It is not a stretch to say the Canadian government sees the CETA negotiations as a tool for constraining the ability of the EU to pass regulations or other domestic measures that would differentiate between products based on their carbon content.”

January 21, 2011: The Council of Canadians was in Strasbourg, France to brief Members of the European Parliament on our concerns about CETA. At a meeting twenty-one representatives of the European Parliament’s trade committee, an uninvited Canadian embassy official turned up to challenge our comments related to the tar sands and Europe’s fuel quality directive. She denied that Canada had raised this issue in relation to CETA. We easily countered her assertions.

February 21, 2011: Reuters reports that, “Canada has threatened to scrap a trade deal with the European Union if the EU persists with plans that would block imports of Canada’s highly polluting tar sands, according to EU documents and sources.”

April 8, 2011: The Council of Canadians and civil society groups sends a letter to Harper government officials saying that the Canadian government should stop lobbying the European Parliament and European Commission to weaken a popular European Union climate measure aimed at reducing the carbon content of transportation fuels.

For more on this – and a fuller timeline – please go to http://canadians.org/blog/?p=10590.