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CPOPC WORKING VISIT TO ITALY, THE NETHERLANDS, AND BELGIUM 17 – 26 OCTOBER 2023

Date

31 Oct 2023

Sections

Climate & Environment

 

The Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) conducted a working visit to three (3) Member States of the European Union (EU) namely, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium from 17 – 26 October 2023 with the aim to obtain on the ground information of the current state of play of the readiness in the implementation of the EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR). The working visit was led by Dr. Rizal Affandi Lukman, Secretary General of CPOPC. The delegation included Director of Strategy and Policy and senior staffs of CPOPC, officials from Indonesia led by Deputy Minister for Food and Agribusiness, the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia accompanied by experts, officials from Malaysia led by the Chief Executive Officer of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, and officials from Embassies of the Republic of Indonesia and Malaysia at the respective countries.  

In each Member States, the delegation had engagements with officials from the governments, industry players and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to exchange information and views on the latest development of the EUDR and other challenges faced by the oil palm industry. For officials from the governments, the delegation had meetings with various Ministries of the EU Member States namely the Ministry of the Environment and Energy Security and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty, and Forests of Italy; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, Kingdom of the Netherlands as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Public Health and Environment of Belgium. A visit to the Port of Rotterdam and meeting with the port authority as well as two companies involved in palm oil at the port were also held to exchange views and updates on the readiness of the largest port of entry for palm products in the EU. The delegation also had meeting with Ms. Astrid Schomaker, Director for Green Diplomacy and Multilateralism, European Commission, and officials from Directorate-General for Trade and Directorate-General for International Partnerships.

Based on the meetings and discussions with the various Ministries, it was observed that there are different levels of readiness at the EU Member States. Although there is a willingness to have dialogue and open discussion, the limited information available in particular related to the guidelines for the implementation of EUDR limits the dialogue from progressing. The port authority and the companies importing palm oil at the Port of Rotterdam raised their concerns on the uncertainties related to the implementation of the EUDR.

In the engagement with the industry players, various concerns and issues were raised including the importance of palm oil as an ingredient for their manufacturing process and there is a risk that supply disruption will have an impact on their businesses, particularly in the early stage of the implementation of EUDR. The CSOs are concerned with the short transition which may impact the supply chain, particularly the exclusion of oil palm smallholders as there are companies that have announced such practices in order to comply with the requirements of EUDR.

A hybrid press briefing with Euractiv on “EU Regulation on Deforestation-Free Products – What Implications for Smallholders?” concluded the programme. The  Secretary General of CPOPC, Dr. Rizal Affandi Lukman, Deputy Minister of Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, Dr. Musdhalifah Machmud, Secretary General of Ministry of Plantation and Commodities of Malaysia, Dato’ Mad Zaidi Mohd Karli, Head of Unit, Planetary Common Goods, Universal Values & Environmental Security, Directorate-General for the Environment, European Commission, Astrid Ladefoged and Senior EU Policy Advisor of Solidaridad, Gert van der Bijl joined the debates to exchange views and concerns related to the implementation of the EUDR and the potential risks for exclusion of oil palm smallholders. The need for support for the smallholders and transition period required to enable the inclusivity of smallholders were deliberated.

Arising from the working visit, CPOPC urged the European Commission to share the latest information including competent authorities and guidelines for implementation as soon as possible. CPOPC requested for the consideration of introduction of an “inception phase” to ensure smooth transition for continued supplies of certified sustainable palm oil meeting the requirements of EUDR. There is a need to ensure harmonisation in the implementation of EUDR across 27 Member States to prevent the unwarranted supply disruption. The progress of developing traceability tools that connect the supply chain in producing countries with the operator in consuming countries needs to be discussed as early as possible. CPOPC also underlined the need for a transparent and inclusive process in the benchmarking process in view of its potential negative impacts on the producing countries. More importantly, CPOPC is ready for open dialogues and engagements and to work together with the stakeholders in the EU to address the issues and challenges faced by the oil palm industry, in particular for the implementation of EUDR.

 

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