EP: Stricter rules to keep illegal timber off the EU market

Nachfolgend wird eine geringfügig veränderte und gekürzte Pressemitteilung des Europäischen Parlaments dokumentiert.

Stricter rules on timber sold in the EU are needed to combat illegal logging – the main cause of deforestation, said the Environment Committee on Tuesday. And illegal timber suppliers must pay penalties that reflect the degree of environmental and economic damage, it added.
EU rules need to be more effective, as 20 to 40% of global industrial wood production is from illegal sources, said rapporteur Caroline Lucas (Greens, UK), whose co-decision report was adopted with 54 votes in favour, one against and one abstention. The Environment Committee called on the Commission to table tough legislation to ensure that illegally harvested timber and timber products are removed from the EU market.

Shared responsibility, tougher penalties
All operators in the supply chain should „share the responsibility for eliminating the risk of introducing illegally harvested timber and timber products“ to the EU market, says the Committee. Obligations must therefore apply to operators throughout the timber supply chain, not just those placing timber on the market for the first time, as proposed by the Commission, says the committee.

Financial penalties, to be set by EU Member States, must reflect the degree of environmental and economic damage caused by the illegal activity, add MEPs. These penalties must represent „at least five times the value of the timber products obtained by committing a serious infringement“ and they will increase in the event of repeat infringements.

Due diligence – better information, traceability and monitoring
The „due diligence system“, approved by MEPs, requires operators to reduce the risk of placing illegally harvested timber and timber products on the EU market to a minimum, using a system of detailed measures and procedures. This system only applies to operators placing the timber in the market for the first time, since they are considered to have the biggest influence and responsibility.

But to improve timber traceability, MEPs ask that all operators provide basic information about the source of the products, their country and forest of origin. They will also have to identify the operator who has supplied the timber and to whom it has been supplied, through a traceability system.

Monitoring must also be improved, say MEPs, who call on the competent authorities to carry out checks on the supply chain and to apply „immediate corrective measures“, such as „seizure of illegal logging“ and enforcing the „cessation of commercial activity“.

Timber from high-risk areas demands extra due diligence
MEPs ask the Commission to establish certain categories, such as „high-risk“ timber or suppliers which will require extra due diligence from the operators. Timber could be classified as high risk if, for example, it were from „countries where there is consistent and reliable information regarding significant failures of forest law governance“ or a „high level of corruption“. In such cases, operators will be subject to extra due diligence obligations.

No exceptions for biomass timber
The rules should cover all products that could contain illegally-sourced timber, „without exception“, said MEPs, who deleted a proposed exemption for timber used for biomass.

Procedure: co-decision, first reading –Plenary vote: April
In the chair : Miroslav OUZKÝ (EPP-ED, CZ)
REF. : 20090216IPR49519