Press release: 28 June 2022
EU Council’s attempts to water down new deforestation law ‘unjustified’
The Council of the European Union, representing member states, has today published its agreed approach to the European Commission’s proposed law on deforestation-free products.
Among its amendments, the Council has proposed to:
- Limit traceability requirements on beef and animal feed;
- Reduce enforcement responsibilities on member states;
- Delete a crucial provision on access to justice that would allow people to challenge non-compliance in court;
- Introduce loopholes from the existing illegal timber rules that the Commission had deliberately tried to close; and,
- Include a reference to international human rights that fails to require respect for them.
Michael Rice, ClientEarth lawyer, said: “The extent to which member states have attempted to water-down this proposal is beyond disappointing – it's unjustified.
“The importance of this law for bringing the world’s forests and climate back from the brink of collapse cannot be understated. Yet the Council have struck right at the heart of the law by attempting to shirk its own responsibilities to enforce it and weaken critical traceability rules on products such as beef and animal feed.
“If these changes were to go through, the door would be left wide open for companies to bring high-risk products into the EU with no firm idea of where they are from or whether they have caused deforestation.
“This outcome makes member states’ commitment to tackle deforestation at COP26 look like another irresponsible example of political showboating.”
The European Parliament is also reviewing the proposed law and will need to reach agreement on the changes it would like to see before negotiations with the Council on a final version can begin.
Rice added: “It is now even more critical that the European Parliament pushes for an ambitious law that will actually help save the world’s remaining forests and secure a climate in which our children can survive.”
Notes to editors:
- ClientEarth’s briefing clarifying the traceability requirements in the Commission’s proposed EU deforestation regulation is available here.
- ClientEarth’s briefing on the Commission’s proposed EU law on deforestation is available here.
- ClientEarth’s briefing comparing the EU law on deforestation-free products and the EUTR framework is available here.
ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.