Today's decision is part of the implementation of the Joint Statement agreed between Presidents Juncker and Trump in July 2018. In the Joint Statement, the two sides agreed to increase trade in several areas and products, notably soya beans. Renewable energy is the future of Europe, and it is important that any biofuels put in the market respect the high sustainability standards we want for our renewables. By submitting the request for recognition, the U.S. has shown that it is ready to play by the rules.
The United States is Europe's main soya beans supplier and today's decision will further expand its market opportunities in Europe. In the EU, biofuels must fulfil a set of sustainability criteria, contained in the Renewable Energy Directive, in order to be eligible for public support or to count towards the EU's renewable energy targets.
The Commission's recognition can be extended beyond 2021 if the scheme puts in place the changes regarding the sustainability criteria in line with the requirements of the new revised Renewable Energy Directive, adopted last year for the period 2021-2030. The US Authorities are required to notify to the Commission all changes it aims to apply to the certification procedures and the Commission may repeal its Decision if the scheme is not correctly implemented, if it fails to submit annual reports or if it does not introduce improvements that may be set out in the future.
Imports of U.S. soya beans by the European Union increased by 112% over the current market year (July-December 2018), compared to the same period in the previous year. With a share of 75% of EU soya beans imports, the U.S. remains Europe's number one supplier.
To demonstrate compliance with those criteria, the United States submitted to the Commission on 15 November 2018 a soya bean production scheme, the Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP), which is owned and managed by Soy Export Sustainability, LLC (SES), a subsidiary of the U.S. Soy Export Council (USSEC).
The EU imports about 14 million tonnes of soya beans per year as a source of protein to feed our animals, including chicken, pigs and cattle, as well as for milk production. Soya beans from the U.S. happen to be a very attractive feed option for European importers and users thanks to their competitive prices.
This decision on the recognition of the "U.S. Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol" for demonstrating compliance with the sustainability criteria under the renewable Energy Directive does not increase the share of crop-based biofuels, eligible to account toward the renewable energy target.