The Secretariat of Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) acknowledges the statement by the European Commissioner for Trade, Mr. Phil Hogan on behalf of the European Commission – in response to parliamentary question E-001194/2020 – may indicate a new willingness by Europe to collaborate with palm oil producing countries to foster an even more sustainable supply chain. The Commission recognises the efforts that producing countries and all stakeholders have made and continue to make towards a production strategy that best balances the relationship between man and nature, protects biodiversity and forests, and guarantees not only the most basic human rights, but also an opportunity for economic and social prosperity.

The Commission’s response to the question submitted to the European Parliament by a representative from Poland belies our concerns regarding the protectionist position of many European member states. Indeed, over the last two decades palm oil has been the subject of unfair and counter-productive vilification campaigns, driven by protectionist and commercial motives. European citizens and consumers are the main victims of such activities, being misled by fake news, with no sound scientific basis. Our industry, meanwhile, has increased its efforts and availed of the most advanced scientific and technological research to achieve unrivalled levels of food safety and environmental sustainability, as proven by the most recent available data and scientific studies.

The Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy recently launched by the European Commission offers a major opportunity for us all to work together and further improve sustainability standards. It will also serve as a useful tool to enable European consumers to appreciate the excellent qualities of palm oil, which is – and remains – the most widely sold vegetable oil in the world.

The CPOPC Secretariat understands the desire of national governments to support domestic producers of vegetable fats and oils, particularly during such challenging times. However, we are confident that the European Union will act in the interest of all its citizens, and with a view to global development, by guaranteeing the importation of, and access to, sustainable palm oil. Most palm oil that arrives in Europe is already certified, and meets extremely high sustainability standards.

In order for the Farm to Fork strategy to have a significant impact and achieve its ambitious goals, we must all work together at an international level and on a multilateral basis. All perspectives must be considered. There must be multilateral discussion, rather than the default application of green deal diplomacy. We want to be part of this discussion, not mere spectators. 

To be true to its values and norms, the European Union should promote balanced, non-discriminatory, not unilateral and based on scientific basis legislative and regulatory measures. In essence, the European Union should work in partnership with countries concerned through consultations and dialogues.

We will continue to support this ambitious project, as we have done in the past, despite constant, exasperating attacks on our industry every day. For millions living in the equatorial region of the world, palm oil represents a fundamental source of livelihood and economic and social development. For billions, it represents a fundamental source of nutrition.

The global population, which currently stands at more than 7.6 billion, is rapidly approaching the 10 billion mark. Palm oil is proven to be among the most balanced products to guarantee secure, safe – but also sustainable – nutrition to the world’s population. The debate surrounding the F2F strategy must not overlook these considerations.