On September 28, 2023, the European Commission is reported to have made a proposal to the EUTR/FLEGT expert group in relation to timber imports from Gabon, aimed at halting the latter due to due diligence made impossible since the recent coup d'état (information confirmed yesterday by the competent French authority). We are obviously fully mobilized on this issue, with the support of all stakeholders concerned, to ensure that this proposal is not implemented.
Indeed, Gabon is highly committed to sustainable forest management and is at the forefront of traceability issues. What's more, shortly after the coup d'état on August 30, a return to normal was observed with no hindrance to the movement of goods and people.
However, we have just received confirmation from the European Commission's DG ENV (Directorate-General for the Environment) of misunderstandings on this issue, and of the fact that there had been no EC proposal to halt timber imports from Gabon.
Nevertheless, DG ENV has confirmed that a meeting will be held this week with the competent authorities of EU member states and the Commission as part of the specific EUTR/FLEGT expert group.
One of the aims of this group, which meets regularly, is to provide advice and assistance to the Commission in the implementation of EU legislation on the protection and restoration of the world's forests, including illegal logging, as well as coordination and cooperation with member states.
Among other topics, discussions focused on the situation in a number of countries, including Gabon.
DG ENV concludes that this issue will be discussed in greater depth at future meetings.
We therefore owe it to ourselves more than ever to be vigilant and attentive on this subject, and to work on an argument that we will share with the Commission as well as with all influential people/organizations.
It is highly likely that the recent political situation and the latest exchanges will lead to tighter import controls.
We remain at your disposal to answer any questions you may have and would like to thank all our members and partners for their support and commitment: ITTO, the EU Delegation in Gabon, the French Embassy in Gabon, AFD, trade associations (UFIGA, FEDUSTRIA, fedecomlegno, federlegnoArredo, VVNH, UIPC, ETTF, ETIC, CEIbois...), relevant ministries and authorities, sustainable forest management certification schemes (FSC, PEFC-PAFC), consultancies and all the member and non-member companies involved.