News from the EUDR: what are the concerns of the forestry and timber industry?


With 8 months to go before the European Union's new anti-deforestation regulation comes into force, where do we stand? What progress has been made, and what concerns and questions does the timber industry have at this stage?


The text of the regulations is available here


Where do we stand?

As a reminder, the ATIBT has drawn up a brochure summarizing the changes and points of divergence between the EUDR and the EUTR. This brochure is available here. Articles published on the subject by ATIBT can be found on the website.

The regulation will come into force in 8 months' time, on December 30, 2024 (and June 30, 2025 for SMEs).

We are therefore currently in the midst of the preparatory phase. The main actions taken by the European Commission are presented on this page. We present the main points below.

- Updating of the FAQ in December 2023 (a new version is expected soon): this is an unofficial French translation, the original version is available at this link.

- Publication of the European Observatory on Deforestation and Forest Degradation, providing access to information on forest cover monitoring and trade flows of products covered by the regulations. This tool is not mandatory.

- Development of the Information System, which will enable operators to submit their Due Diligence Declaration (DDR). Between December 18, 2023 and January 31, 2024, the European Commission carried out a full-scale test of the Information System, where data enabling product traceability is entered. Among the 112 European companies taking part in the test were several from the forestry, wood and paper industries. Feedback from the test revealed numerous problems of use, data entry, ergonomics and confidentiality. At the same time, the Commission has begun work on developing API interfaces, which will enable interconnection between the information system and operators' internal systems.

- Country risk assessment: the Commission will classify countries, or certain regions, into three categories (high, standard and low risk) according to the level of risk of deforestation and forest degradation. Operators sourcing raw materials from low-risk areas will be able to implement simplified due diligence.

- Development of non-binding guidelines: these will cover all the topics covered by the regulation, in particular the role of certification in risk analysis and reduction. A draft has already been circulated by the Commission, and publication of the guidelines is scheduled for May.


What concerns the forestry and timber industry?

All the sectors concerned are currently concerned about the applicability of the EUDR by December 2024. In particular, the coffee sector has expressed its concern at the "potentially devastating impact on millions of producers", and is urging the EU to delay implementation of the EUDR.

In the timber sector, concerns are focused on the country risk assessment provided for in the regulation. An article in the Financial Time dated March 8, 2024 announced that the EU plans to postpone application of the approach based on country risk assessment via a comparative risk analysis of producing countries. Instead of a country-by-country risk ranking, all countries would be considered as presenting a "standard risk" in order to "give them more time to adapt" to the new regulation. This information has not been officially announced by the Commission. The European Commissioner for the Environment, Virginijus Sinkevičius, acknowledged that Brussels was behind schedule in drafting a number of technical documents designed to ensure the proper implementation of the new regulations, but stressed that this delay would not prevent their application from January 1 next year (source Politico). 

However, the announcement has raised concerns within the industry. With all countries classified as "standard risk", all players would be subject to the same due diligence obligations, regardless of their level of risk. Several European timber industry federations, including ETTF, issued a press release this week to emphasize their view that the application of this approach is essential to enable market players and competent authorities in member states to comply with the regulation, and to encourage good practice in producer countries.

In this press release, the federations reiterate that they fully support the overall objective of the regulation, namely to combat deforestation, but that this change requires that the concerns of industry players be supported and taken into account. They therefore call for the implementation of the EUDR to be postponed until it seems realistically applicable, and for the classification of low-risk countries to be carried out rapidly.


Download the press release from the European timber industry federations


In addition, the French timber industry also wrote a letter this week to the Minister of Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion requesting a revision of the EUDR, stressing that "the principle of 'strict traceability' and the processes envisaged by the EUDR lead to numerous implementation difficulties and still raise questions of interpretation."

The French timber industry also believes that the EUDR is currently inapplicable to the operators concerned.


Download the letter


ATIBT recognizes the problems with certain provisions of the regulation and the gaps in implementation, and remains mobilized to monitor the progress of this preparatory phase. The tropical timber industry has the capacity to rise to the challenge: timber has already been subject to the EUDR since 2013, and marketers and importers have been implementing due diligence practices for over 10 years. In addition, FSC® and PEFC/PAFC certifications are highly demanding in their criteria which, beyond purely forestry aspects (management, traceability), encompass respect for communities, workers' rights and safety, respect for the environment and protection of biodiversity.

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