Saturday

21st May 2022

Last-minute calls to delay EU deforestation law

  • New rules would target companies selling soy, beef, palm oil, wood, cocoa and coffee in the EU (Photo: CodiePie)
Listen to article

After decades of voluntary measures that failed to halt deforestation, the EU is pioneering new regulation in a bid to reduce its role in the destruction of forests.

The regulation would force companies selling soy, beef, palm oil, wood, cocoa and coffee in the EU to ensure and prove that their production processes are deforestation-free.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

More than 100 environmental and other organisations have called on EU governments and the European Parliament to improve the commission proposal. The French presidency of the EU council aims to reach a common position in June.

But some EU member states want to extend further a two-year transitional period to implement the new due-diligence obligations, while others say they are concerned about the administrative burden that small and medium companies will face.

On Monday (21 February), Latvia said national authorities would need as many as six years to adapt.

Ireland was among countries that called for more time for small and medium operators, arguing that "awareness-raising campaigns" were necessary first.

That was not the position of most EU capitals, however.

Dutch agriculture minister Henk Staghouwer said the legislation should be adopted swiftly as "the agricultural sector is the main driver of deforestation worldwide".

And Spain and Denmark were open to the possibility of including other deforestation-intensive products like rubber or maize, under the list of commodities subject to the new rules. That is likely to please environmental groups, which have long called for the inclusion of such products.

Even so, other countries took issue with other parts of the rulebook.

Finland's agriculture minister, Jari Leppä, raised concerns about a cut-off date, set by the new regulation, that would ban imports of the six commodities if their production is linked to deforestation or forest degradation after 31 December 2020.

Under the new rules, no commodities would be allowed to enter the EU market if they are produced on lands subject to deforestation or forest degradation after that date.

But Leppä called for a delay to ensure that operators are not penalised over rules he says they could not have reasonably anticipated two years ago.

Other ministers also pointed out that establishing a common traceability system will be both complex and costly. But a risk-assessment had shown no big increases in costs, said EU commissioner for environment Virginijus Sinkevičius.

The EU is among the world's largest importers of tropical deforestation as a result of international trade.

EU banks play 'major role' in deforestation, report finds

Banks based in the EU have earned a reported €401m from deforestation, out of more than €30bn worth of deals with companies linked to logging. Deal-making was dominated by big banks from the Netherlands, France, Spain, Germany, and Italy.

Opinion

Deforestation and the failure of EU self-regulation

As climate protests grow, Brazil's forests disappear at the rate of two football pitches a minute, and a summer of European heat raises the temperature, will new pledges from the EU on deforestation make the cut?

Commission grilled on RePowerEU €210bn pricetag

EU leaders unveiled a €210bn strategy aiming to cut Russian gas out of the European energy equation before 2027 and by two-thirds before the end of the year — but questions remain on how it is to be financed.

Commission grilled on RePowerEU €210bn pricetag

EU leaders unveiled a €210bn strategy aiming to cut Russian gas out of the European energy equation before 2027 and by two-thirds before the end of the year — but questions remain on how it is to be financed.

News in Brief

  1. UK to send 'hundreds' of migrants to Rwanda each year
  2. Norwegian knife attacks were domestic dispute
  3. Sweden hits back at Turkey's 'disinformation' in Nato bid
  4. Germany's Schröder gives up one of two Russia jobs
  5. G7 countries pledge €18bn in financial aid for Ukraine
  6. Italian unions strike in protest over military aid for Ukraine
  7. Russia cuts gas supply to Finland
  8. Half of Gazprom's clients have opened rouble accounts

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. What Europe still needs to do to save its bees
  2. Remembering Falcone: How Italy almost became a narco-state
  3. Economic worries and Hungary on the spot Next WEEK
  4. MEPs urge sanctioning the likes of ex-chancellor Schröder
  5. MEPs call for a more forceful EU response to Kremlin gas cut
  6. Catalan leader slams Pegasus use: 'Perhaps I'm still spied on'
  7. More EU teams needed to prosecute Ukraine war crimes
  8. French EU presidency struggling on asylum reforms

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us