European Parliament votes to cut illegal timber out of the EU market
The European Parliament has voted in favour of legislation banning illegally logged timber imports into the European Union. The new legislation bans illegally-harvested timber or timber products from being placed on the EU market. This will prevent such wood from effectively being laundered once it reaches the EU. Currently, at least 20% of timber and timber products reaching the EU market is estimated to come from illegal sources.
Member States will be responsible for applying sanctions to operators who break the rules. The legislation sets out guidelines for imposing fines: the environmental damage caused, the value of the timber and lost tax revenue can all be taken into consideration. EU countries can also impose criminal-law penalties on unscrupulous dealers. To ensure traceability, each operator along the supply chain will need to declare from whom they bought timber and to whom they sold it.
The Council has already informally agreed with the terms of this draft legislation but will need to rubber stamp it before it can pass into law. The rules are expected to take effect in late 2012 to allow timber operators time to adapt.