The Use of Sustainability Criteria : In the Case of the EU Legislation on Biofuels in the Transport Sector

Abstract: In the licentiate thesis, it is researched and analyzed how sustainability criteria may be used in a legal framework, with the purpose to promote and safeguard sustainable products and their production. The research and analysis are conducted on the basis of the EU approach to use sustainability criteria for biofuels in the transport sector, legally expressed in Directive 2009/28/EC, and its amendments in Directive 2015/1513. The licentiate thesis is presented in the form of a compilation. It includes five independently written and published in international journals papers, which deal with different aspects of the researched problem, and the “main body” of an analytical and summarizing character. The “main body” of the licentiate thesis provides answers to the purpose of the research and its supplementary objectives, which are formulated in the introduction.The results of the research indicate that sustainability criteria, if not designed, implemented and enforced in a satisfactory manner, may miss their aim, and even lead to negative effects. For example, they may fail to guarantee the sustainable quality of the product they address. They may result in substantial economic and administrative losses. They may cause conflicts with other laws, agreements, and the regulations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). They may lead to unforeseen side-effects that are difficult to steer. Mechanisms promoted to control the fulfillment of sustainability criteria may fail in their function, and result in unwanted complications and insecurity. Regulations aimed to support the implementation of sustainability criteria may be difficult to follow for an average producer. However, the positive potential of using sustainability criteria in legal frameworks is high. The performance of this legal tool depends much on individual conditions in each particular case. Some general patterns for the use of sustainability criteria in legal frameworks may be worked out. Thus, the aim of using sustainability criteria should be explicitly formulated. It is advisable that this aim is connected to how the concepts sustainable development, sustainability and environmental protection are interpreted in the industry sustainability criteria are made for. The scope of issues that sustainability criteria regulate, in compliance with the formulated aim, should be clearly outlined. A quantitative environmental goal that reflects in what amounts the sustainable product should be manufactured, without damaging the environment, may be established.Sustainability criteria should not be seen as the only possibility for dealing with environmental challenges. There is a variety of other legal means and governance approaches that may be used with similar purposes, such as eco-labels and eco-design of products. Sustainability criteria should rather be treated as an alternative solution, which may be used in combination with them or alone. The outcomes of the research may be shared by industries and countries that wish to use sustainability criteria. The ideas developed in the licentiate thesis may be interesting not only for legal scholars and practitioners of law, but also for representatives of natural and sustainability sciences. It is valuable to continue and deepen the research on sustainability criteria, for example by adding elements of a comparative analysis.