European Parliament debates the impacts of EUTR and FLEGT
The impacts of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) and the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan were discussed at an European Forest Institute (EFI) ThinkForest seminar in the European Parliament on 21 April.

MEP Paul Brannen, hosting the event, emphasised the importance of these instruments, which are aimed at eliminating illegal timber in international trade: “we’ll get nowhere to limit climate change unless we address the problem of global deforestation in a decisive manner”.

The two key elements of the 2003 FLEGT Action Plan are the Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) and the EUTR. Both instruments are meant to reinforce each other, where the VPAs address the supply (export) and the EUTR address the demand (import). According to the EUTR, all operators who place timber on the European market, are obliged to take adequate measures to ensure its legalality.

One of the main issues raised, is the challenge of implementing the EUTR within the EU. A new study by the European Forest Institute (EFI), presented at the seminar, highlights that some countries are well advanced in the implementation process, whereas others are rather at the beginning. Several countries are facing substantial technical and economic challenges, such as “the lack of resources and knowledge, and the sheer number of operators versus personal resources of the implementing agencies”, the report says.

The EFI study primarily focuses on the impacts of EUTR and FLEGT from a global perspective. However, from CEPFs’ perspective additional attention ought to be paid to the impacts on the European forest owners and managers, who also have to comply with the EUTR as operators. For this reason, CEPF has conducted its own assessment of the impacts of EUTR on private forest owners, which will be released shortly.

The European Commission, DG Environment, recently opened a public consultation“on the evaluation of the EUTR two years after its entry into application”, which is open until 5 June 2015. By December 2015 the Commission will submit a report to the European Parliament and the Council on the quality of the implementation of the EUTR. If they find it necessary, the report may be accompanied by legislative proposals.