On Monday, December 5, the Council and the European Parliament reached a provisional agreement on a European Commission proposal to minimize the risk of deforestation and forest degradation associated with products imported into or exported from the European Union. The agreement is provisional pending formal adoption by both institutions, and should be applicable in 2025.
The night of December 6, 2022 saw the adoption of a historic European law in favor of the fight against global deforestation, already identified by the acronym EUDR (see the press release of the European Commission)
The provisional agreement sets mandatory due diligence rules for all operators and traders who place, make available or export the following commodities from the EU market: palm oil, beef, timber, coffee, cocoa, rubber and soy. The rules also apply to a number of derived products such as chocolate, furniture, printed paper and selected palm oil based derivates (used for example as components in personal care products).
The co-legislators set the cut-off date of the new rules at 31 December 2020, meaning that only products that have been produced on land that has not been subject to deforestation or forest degradation after 31 December 2020 will be allowed on the Union market or to be exported.
The Council and Parliament agreed to set a definition for deforestation, based on a definition from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). They set an innovative concept for the definition of ‘forest degradation’ meaning the structural changes to forest cover, taking the form of the conversion of naturally regenerating forests and primary forests into plantation forests and other wooded land and the conversion of primary forests into planted forests. A priori, this definition of degradation is more appropriate (not just the change from primary forest to plantations/other woodlands) and should not be a problem for legal/certified wood either.
The co-legislators agreed on stringent due diligence obligations for operators, which will be required to trace the products they are selling back to the plot of land where it was produced (geolocation requirement). At the same time, the new rules avoid duplication of obligations and reduce administrative burden for operators and authorities. It also adds the possibility for small operators to rely on larger operators to prepare due diligence declarations.
Under the provisional agreement, a system that assigns third countries and EU countries a level of risk related to deforestation and forest degradation (low, standard or high) will be put in place. The risk category will determine the level of specific obligations imposed on operators and Member State authorities to carry out inspections and controls. The competent authorities will have to carry out checks on 9% of operators and traders marketing products from high-risk countries, 3% from standard-risk countries and 1% from low-risk countries, in order to verify that they are actually fulfilling the obligations laid down in the regulation. Failure to comply with the rules may lead to fines.
The agreement also takes into account human rights aspects linked to deforestation, including the right to free, prior and informed consent by indigenous peoples.
As for the next steps, the provisional agreement must now be endorsed and formally adopted by the Council and Parliament. Once this process is completed, the new legislation will be published in the Official Journal of the Union (estimated to be end of the first half of 2023). After its entry into force, operators and traders will have 18 months to implement the new rules, i.e. by 2025.
This agreement raises several reactions. While they generally welcome this draft regulation agreement, questions are being asked, particularly about the impact in producing countries.
We share with you some reactions:
In addition, webinars are offered on this subject:
We invite you to register to these events, which will allow to understand and interpret this new regulation, and to analyse the impacts.
The ATIBT has followed closely the evolution of this European text, through the "Deforestation" working group of the Certification Commission. The members of the ATIBT can contact Caroline Duhesme, responsible for the Commission. The final content and the latest developments will be sent to you as soon as they are available.
Contact : Caroline Duhesme