When Canada’s Prime Minister meets European Commission President Barroso today, one thing is sure: he will not only seal a trade deal with the man representing the world’s largest economic block, he will also try to dissuade President Barroso from enacting the EU’s clean fuel standard.

This is because Europe’s fuel standard would turn a simple scientific fact into law: tar sands are one of the world’s dirtiest fuels, causing 23% higher carbon emissions than conventional fuel used in Europe. Under the so-called Fuel Quality Directive, suppliers have to reduce carbon emissions from fuels by 6% between 2010 and 2020. Once it is fully in place, this law will keep tar sands out of Europe.

The governments of Canada and its tar sands province of Alberta have lobbied for years to stop the EU from applying this law. They have organised a host of lobby events, commissioned a study to undermine the scientific evidence (and misrepresented its findings), brought a PR campaign to Europe, threatened the EU with a WTO complaint and used EU-Canada trade talks to hammer home their message.

The question is: will Europe buckle?

For now, the EU Directive is stalled, even though it should have been implemented by 2011. When a vote in an EU government committee in February 2012 ended in stalemate, the European Commission decided to back up its proposal with a new study. Now that this impact assessment has been finalised, the Commission is expected to ask environment ministers for their seal of approval. It is up to Barroso to decide if and when this will happen.

Barroso needs to take a decision. He initiated Europe’s clean fuels law during his first term in office. He should complete it during his second term if Europe is to stand by its climate promises.

When Canada’s Prime Minister kindly offers Barroso some ‘advice’ on climate change policy, the Commission President should remember that there’s nothing to learn from a government that pulled out of the Kyoto climate protocol because of its obsession with dirty, climate-wrecking tar sands.