The European trade association for producers of synthetic ethanol repeated its protest against customs legislation that allows the importation of heavily subsidised ethanol from countries outside the EU. The IEA represents the interests of synthetic ethanol producers - ethanol produced from petrochemicals that is used for high value products such as cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Biofuel targets harm synthetic ethanol industry According to the IEA the customs loopholes are a result of the EU wishing to meet certain biofuel targets. In a presentation at the Platts 'Ethanol in Europe' conference in Berlin, the IEA accused the European Commission of turning a blind eye to customs irregularities in order to meet biofuel and greenhouse gas reduction targets. These irregularities are jeopardising both the European industrial ethanol industry and the biofuel industry, claim the trade association. "The EU's biofuels targets are a valid tool but in practice clash with other policy objectives such as security and independence of energy supply, trade and development, competitiveness and health," said IEA chairman Ian Kersey. "Targets should not be used at the expense of all other sectors. The Commission must intervene to close these loopholes and achieve a level playing field for the European ethanol industry," he added. The IEA was created in autumn 2007 and groups together three producers of synthetic ethanol INEOS, PetroSA Europe and Sasol Solvents Germany. At the time of the creation of the body secretary general of the IEA Emmanuel Desplechin said: "Synthetic ethanol producers are a significant player on the industrial ethanol market and felt the need to be represented, as all EU policies related to agricultural ethanol have a direct impact on the industrial ethanol market where IEA operates." Ethanol in cosmetics Ethanol (ethyl alcohol) appears in many cosmetic products and perfumes, as a solvent and an anti-bacterial agent. More specifically alcohol is likely to appear in acne treatments or treatments for oily hair due to its drying qualities. However, there is a significant move at present towards alcohol free cosmetics, fragrances and personal care products. The move, championed by the natural and organic sector of the market, places an emphasis on natural ingredients that not derived from petrochemicals. When asked if he felt this move would affect the synthetic ethanol industry, Mr Desplechin replied: "Downstream industries and everyday consumers sectors depend on synthetic ethanol, because it is a refined and pure product."