EU Council rejects ban on illegal timber imports - FLEGT
December 22, 2009: At the meeting of European ministers in the Agriculture and Fisheries Council (15 December 2009), a discussion was held on the proposal for the Regulation laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market. The legislation requires all operators placing timber on the EU market for the first time to minimise the risk that it is illegal by undertaking due diligence on their supply chains.
The ministers rejected a proposal to ban the importing of illegal timber and timber products, and instead agreed on measures including stricter rules on the certification of timber entering the EU. The UK, Spain, Denmark and Belgium abstained from the vote. The draft legislation approved in the meeting will be sent to the European parliament for a second reading in 2010.
EU ministers water down illegal timber legislation (FLEGT)
Planned EU legislation designed to ban the import of illegal timber and wood products has been watered down at a meeting of agricultural ministers in Brussels yesterday.
Ministers voted in favour of a compromise text on due diligence legislation, which effectively dropped the criminalisation of selling illegal timber and instead minimises the risk of the material entering the EU. It also removes financial penalties for non-compliance.
Sweden, Finland, Portugal and Austria were among countries voting in favour of the amendments, with the UK, Spain and the Netherlands against the changes.
The revised proposals, which will go back to the European Parliament for further debate in 2010, focus on the first occasion when timber and wood products are placed on the EU market.
“The rules will oblige those involved to ensure, as far as possible, that the timber or wood products on the market are legally logged,” the EU said in a statement.
“In other words, the regulation focuses on the actions of the operators rather than on the products.”
Greenpeace immediately launched a stinging attack on the amendments, saying Sweden had abused its position as EU president in its redrafting of the planned regulation. “There is no compliance mechanism included,” it said.
France and Luxembourg expressed a need to create a strong and dissuasive regime of sanctions at EU level, but voted in favour of the amendments.
Legislation is expected to be finally agreed next year, but a further amendment made in Brussels means its implementation will be delayed for a further three years.