Press release: 19 April 2023
EU Parliament passes historic law to stop deforestation
Today the European Parliament adopted a groundbreaking new law to stop products causing forest destruction from being imported, sold in or exported from the EU.
It is the first time agricultural and forestry companies will have to show that products like wood, rubber, beef, leather, cocoa, coffee, palm oil and soy are deforestation-free in order to import and trade them in the bloc. The new law was adopted with 552 votes to 44 and 43 abstentions.
In welcoming the vote and overwhelming support for the law, ClientEarth lawyers stressed that significant gaps remain in the regulation that need to be filled.
Michael Rice, ClientEarth lawyer, said: “The EU’s deforestation law is one of the biggest forward steps to date in the fight to protect the world’s forests. Today’s vote gives hope that we can turn the tide against environmental destruction and the harm it causes to Indigenous Peoples and forest communities.
“However, we can’t down our tools yet. The EU has created a new gold standard for forest protection on paper. Now EU member states and the European Commission must ensure that the strength of the law is not lost in practice.
“The first order of business will be for EU member states to upgrade their existing enforcement architecture to lay a strong foundation for implementation. That includes ensuring that their enforcement authorities have adequate powers and resources and can be held accountable when they fail to properly uphold the law.”
Certain parts of the law will be reviewed and potentially extended at different milestones after the rules come into force, including provisions that were watered down in the law’s final negotiations such as extending its application to other non-forest ecosystems, like savannahs and wetlands, to the finance sector, and to other products, like consumer goods.
Rice added: “We will be closely following how member states prepare to enforce this important law, and watching the Commission to ensure it uses the review process to make the regulation watertight. That starts with covering all environmentally critical ecosystems like savannahs and wetlands, and not letting companies’ financial backers off the hook.”
Notes to editors:
- The European Commission put forward a proposal for a regulation on deforestation-free products in November 2021. The Commission, EU Council and European Parliament reached a political agreement on the text in December 2022.
- In 2022, over 100 civil society organisations from around the world called for a strong law and over 206,000 citizens called on their MEPs to deliver a strong law.
- More than 140 activists and prominent artists, music and film stars including Barbra Streisand, Mark Ruffalo, Sting and Emma Watson called on lawmakers to respect Indigenous Peoples’ rights, standing with 1.2 million citizens who voiced their support for a strong law.
- Indigenous activists also called on EU leaders to protect the rights of forest communities by requiring companies to respect human rights and the rights of Indigenous Peoples over their lands and territories.
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.