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Better enforcement of illegal logging law needed, as EUTR turns 4

Today marks the four-year anniversary of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), the EU’s law to address illegal logging.

This year has seen some great advances, but more work is needed on the enforcement of the law.

ClientEarth’s forests lawyer Diane de Rouvre said: “This has been a year of significant achievements in efforts to prevent illegal timber entering the EU. While Member States and the Commission have become increasingly engaged and there’s been stronger enforcement in some cases, a great deal more effort is needed.

“Already we have seen fines being imposed for breaches of the EUTR. This should set an example for courts and government across the EU for better enforcement over the coming year.”

In 2016, a court ruling in Sweden declared that a company importing timber from Myanmar was in breach of the EUTR. This was because the origin of the timber could not be accurately determined. Fines were imposed on the company.

Fines were also imposed in The Netherlands, where a company did not meet the EUTR due diligence requirement.

During the last year, the Commission has also taken active steps to ensure the proper functioning of the EUTR. It has started infringement proceedings against Slovakia after similar action prompted Spain and Greece to improve national implementation.

Following the EUTR Review carried out in early 2016, the Commission has also begun an impact assessment process for amending the scope of the EUTR – with the potential to further increase the weight of the law.

Internationally, efforts to tackle illegal logging have made significant progress too. The first shipments of FLEGT-licensed timber from Indonesia arrived in the EU. Timber exported to the EU with a valid FLEGT license is considered to be automatically legal under the EUTR.

More significant moments in the EUTR’s fourth year can be found in ClientEarth’s latest issue of EUTR News, which provides an update on the law from March 2016 to March 2017. It includes information on what both the European Commission and member states are doing to ensure the proper application of the EUTR, and provides updates on similar legislation internationally.

All previous editions of our EUTR newsletter are available on our document library.

If you would like to be sent the EUTR News via email, please contact:

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Frans Neve