11 December 2020
The European Commission is in the process of conducting its Fitness Check of the EUTR and FLEGT Regulation. Stakeholders had the opportunity to contribute to the Fitness Check by participating in the Commission’s public consultation which ended on 26th November. In parallel to the ongoing Fitness Check, several data sources regarding implementation and enforcement of the EUTR have been published by the Commission.
European Commission publishes EU-wide overview of the EUTR for the year 2019
In September 2020, the Commission published the overview of the EUTR for 2019 on the basis of the related annual reports submitted by Member States, along with a summary of key obligations and practical aspects of implementation and enforcement in 2019.
European Commission publishes the EUTR Biennial report for the period 2017-2019
On 2 October 2020, the Commission adopted the EUTR Biennial report for the period 2017-2019, on the basis of the related biennial reports submitted by Member States.
UNEP-WCMC briefing note on EUTR implementation (June-September 2020)
UNEP-WCMC, contracted by the European Commission, published a new briefing note on developments in the implementation and enforcement of the EUTR covering the period from June to September 2020.
European Parliament’s resolution on an EU legal framework to halt and reverse EU-driven global deforestation
On 22 October 2020, the European Parliament adopted a resolution with recommendations to the Commission on an EU legal framework to halt and reverse EU-driven global deforestation. In this resolution, the European Parliament acknowledges the importance of the EUTR, but points out its weak implementation and enforcement, as well as the limited scope of timber products covered by the regulation. Additionally, the European Parliament welcomes the fitness check of the EUTR and the FLEGT Regulation as an opportunity to improve their effectiveness, as well as to widen their scope to cover, for example, printed products, certain wooden products and conflict timber and to strengthen the role of civil society.
Dutch authorities block high-risk Chinese plywood import
The Dutch competent authority (Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority – NVWA) has ordered the company Sakol Nederland B.V. to stop importing tropical face plywood from Jiangsu High Hope Arser Co. Ltd., one of the largest plywood exporters in China. In a press release of Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), the competent authority has given the company two months to cease importing the Chinese timber in breach of the EUTR. In the opinion of EIA, the Commission’s current fitness check of the EUTR means that this decision has come at the right time to demonstrate how the regulation can be effective.
Illegal timber from Myanmar continues to enter the EU
While the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced European imports of timber, imports of teak sawnwood from Myanmar remain on the rise. According to a Forest Trends analysis, in the first six months of 2020, they were 10 percent higher than the same period in 2019.
While some Member States are enforcing the EUTR and effectively stopping imports of Myanmar teak, it appears from the analysis that the timber is finding its way into the EU market through entry points in Poland, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. Of these countries, Poland has recorded the biggest increase in imports (385 percent compared to the first six months of 2019). Additionally, Forest Trends analysis states that one of the Italian importing companies is under investigation by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) since March 2020.
Ikea faces Swiss complaint over illegal timber sourcing
On 2 September 2020, a Swiss foundation Bruno Manser Fonds (BMF) has filed a complaint against IKEA for failing to properly declare the origin of the wood used in two of its products. BMF accuses IKEA of violating Swiss timber law that requires companies to provide information on the origin of timber products and consequently of deliberately misleading customers. More information about the case can be found in this article.
UK guidance on post-Brexit rules on timber trade
On 23 October 2020, the UK’s Office of Product Safety and Standards has issued guidance on rules that will apply to buying and selling timber and timber products from 1 January 2021. Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) will have its own regulations on timber, and Northern Ireland will remain subject to the EUTR. Details can be found here.
Swiss regulation on timber further delayed
Implementation of a new Swiss law on timber, often referred to as the ‘Swiss EUTR’, has been further postponed. The aim of this regulation is to impose due diligence requirements on Swiss importers and traders, and also to simplify documentation for external suppliers exporting to both the EU and Switzerland. According to a state representative (cited in this article), ‘the industry needs more time to prepare for the changes’. The regulation has already passed through the Swiss parliament and the public consultation on the implementing provisions has been launched earlier this year, but the new law will not now come into force until the beginning of 2022.
Timber Trade Federation launches free Due Diligence Toolkit for importing and exporting timber
On 17 September 2020, The Timber Trade Federation (TTF) has launched a free Due Diligence Toolkit to help companies importing and exporting timber and timber products fulfil their due diligence obligations set in the EUTR/UK Timber Regulation. The aim of this interactive tool is to provide operators with knowledge of common high-risk factors to avoid, due diligence reporting requirements, country case studies (e.g. China) alongside with a factory checklist, as well as useful contacts and references. More information about the toolkit can be found here.
Preferred by Nature publishes a guide on impacts of Brexit on the EU/UK timber trade
In November 2020, Preferred by Nature (formerly NEPCon) published a guide for practitioners to understand the impact of Brexit on companies working with timber and timber products. The document covers a variety of important issues for EU/UK stakeholders, like updating due diligence systems, risk profiles of the EU countries, or rules on importing from and exporting to the EU. You can find the guide here.
Fern publishes a report on due diligence legislation
Published in October 2020, the report assesses the effectiveness of existing regulations, in particular the EUTR, and presents recommendations for new due diligence law on forest risk commodities. The report can be found here.
We are changing the format of our EUTR newsletter. Beginning in 2021, we will still be providing you with a short review of recent developments and publications, but also with a brief analysis of a certain EUTR-related topic. If you have any queries regarding the EUTR implementation or enforcement that you would like us to address in the next release, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.