On March 17, France’s National Assembly (Lower House of Parliament) adopted a revised version of the Draft Law for the Recapture of Biodiversity, of Nature and Landscapes (Draft Law).

It aimed at introducing a special tax on palm oil, palm kernel oil and coconut oil with yearly increases until 2020, but provided for an exception if these products are certified as sustainable. If adopted and then implemented, the tax will significantly hinder the importation and use of palm oil, as well as food products containing palm oil.

The Draft Law was sent back to the Senate (Upper House) for consideration. The second public reading by the Senate took place from May 10-12, 2016. Contrary to the National Assembly, the Senate voted to eliminate the provision establishing the special tax on the three products.

However, the Draft Law must be approved by consensus of both the National Assembly and the Senate. The text adopted in each chamber must be identical in order for it to become law.

If a Draft Law is not adopted as written (i.e. if consensus is not reached after two readings in each chamber), a Joint Commission composed of seven members from each chamber will be established. It will be tasked with developing a compromise Draft Law, for a vote by both chambers.

A Joint Commission was established for the Draft Law, but was unable to deliver a compromise. When there is no agreement on a compromise Draft Law, or if one of the chambers rejects it, the government may submit the Draft Law for an additional reading in both chambers. If these are still unable to reach a consensus, the government may submit the Draft Law for a final and definitive reading in the National Assembly.

On May 25, the Draft Law was submitted to the National Assembly for a new reading. At the time of writing, it remains uncertain whether the discussion will be concluded before the summer recess.


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