The EU Commission, the executive arm of the EU, has announced a major new strategy to push the uptake of biofuels in Europe.

The ambitious new strategy was unveiled by the agriculture commissioner Marian Fischer Boel, who admitted that previous efforts to encourage uptake of plant-derived fuel had faltered.

Ms Boel acknowledged that far more stringent action was now required. No decision has yet been made on whether mandatory targets will be set for the oil industry to comply with, however the EU expects an agreement on whether this is necessary by the end of the year. Ms Boel herself is thought to be a keen advocate of such compulsion.

Ms Boel believes the time is now right to tap into the potential of fuel derived from agricultural materials such as sugar beet or cereals. There has never been a better moment to push the case for biofuels, the commissioner said. Crude oil prices remain high. We face stringent targets under the Kyoto Protocol. And the recent controversy over imports of Russian gas has underlined the importance of increasing Europe’s energy self-sufficiency.