The Delegated Act that allows the European Union to implement a much-criticized policy to phase out palm oil-based biofuels in its renewable energy sector, was a dynamic process that was open for review, a senior EU diplomat said in Jakarta (28/5).

Acting Charge D’Affaires of the EU Delegation to Indonesia, Charles-Michel Geurts, told journalists at the margin of a discussion on development cooperation between the European Union and Indonesia, that “The Delegated Ac is a dynamic process and reviews are scheduled for 2021 and 2013 before its effect kicked in in 2024”.

“We will review based on the latest data, that is why it is so important that the efforts of Indonesia in terms of moratorium, in terms of one map policy, in terms of replanting palm oil, yield their full effects because, in 2021 and 2023 we will review the Delegated Act based on the latest data, performance, and achievements of Indonesia on its great paths towards sustainability,” Geurts said.

Relations between the European Union and Indonesia have been strained after the regional organization decided to go ahead with its Revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) that will gradually phase out palm oil-based biodiesel.

Indonesia is the world’s top palm oil producer and exports about 1.5 million tons of palm oil-based biodiesel in 2018. Jakarta and second largest producer Malaysia, have accused the EU’s RED II of being discriminatory against palm oil and have said they would take the issue to the World Trade Organization.

“Indonesia and the EU may be geographically distant and culturally different, but when it comes to development cooperation, we have been and will be continuing to work together to achieve the SDGs,” Indonesian Minister for National Development Planning Bambang Brodjonegoro said at the same occasion referring to the universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Bambang said that the issue of contention between the European Union and Indonesia regarding palm oil was one that concerned bilateral relations but did not prevent both sides to continue discussing their development cooperation.

“We did not talk about that. Here we are only discussing the environment, education, and health,” Bambang said, adding that if there were any discussion on palm oil, “it would be in relations to sustainable development”.

Geurts, who together with Bambang had earlier launched the Blue Book 2019, an annual publication on EU-Indonesia development cooperation, said that the palm oil issue was a real issue that was part of a very big web of issues that related to Indonesia and the EU.

Indonesia wants to produce sustainable palm oil while Europe wants to consume sustainable palm oil. “So, our paths are going to meet, between sustainable palm oil production and sustainable palm oil consumption. Indonesia will not have a stronger supporter on the path to the sustainability of palm oil than the EU,” Geurts said.

He also said that the European Union and Indonesia “are moving into an era of a strategic partnership built on a joint commitment to the SDGs,” adding that said “SDGs are the defining objectives that guide both the EU and Indonesia. Therefore, it is no surprise that the SDGs are the focus of EU cooperation with Indonesia.”

Bambang pointed out that this year’s development cooperation between the EU and Indonesia has taken the theme “Together for Sustainable Development” and touched on collaboration in the environment, education, and health, while Geurts said that both Indonesia and the European Union viewed the SDGs as the basis for their development and cooperation strategies. “It is a strong uniting concept and objectives in which we are talking exactly the same language, Indonesia and the EU,” Geurts said.

Geurts praised Indonesia as having shown remarkable progress in incorporating the SDGs in its development plans and added that the European Union “is committed to supporting Indonesia’s efforts through targeted cooperation programs”.

He said that the EU welcomed the opportunity to expand its partnership with Indonesia in priority areas such as economic cooperation including sustainable investment and climate change mitigation and remained committed to exploring new and innovative models of cooperation.

The Blue Book 2019 highlights what has been accomplished in terms of development cooperation between the EU and Indonesia and what the Future holds for the partnership.

Among the key highlight cited were the launch of the first EU-Indonesia trade-related assistance program, ARISE Plus, which was closely linked to regional economic integration in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to which Indonesia belongs.  2018 also saw the completion of the four-year EU support to Indonesia’s Climate Change Response program that saw among other the institutional strengthening of Indonesia’s Directorate General of Climate Change and the “Greening” of Provincial Development Plans (RPJMs).

The year also saw the introduction of a digital case tracking system, a computer-based whistleblowing system and the training of over 6,000 personnel from the Indonesian Supreme Court.

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