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19 October 20232 minute read

Selected Legal and Practical Issues on the EU-Regulation on Deforestation-free Products

Deforestation and forest degradation are taking place at an alarming rate, with an enormous impact on the loss of biodiversity. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that 420 million hectares of forest – about 10% of the world’s remaining forests and an area larger than the European Union – have been lost worldwide between 1990 and 2020. Deforestation and forest degradation increase alone accounts for 11% of greenhouse gas emissions through associated forest fires, permanently removing carbon sink capacities, decreasing climate change resilience of the affected area and substantially reducing its biodiversity. However, Biodiversity is the single largest nature based opportunity for climate mitigation. The consumption in the European Union is a considerable driver of deforestation and forest degradation on a global scale. In 2016, more than 60% of the world’s cocoa and about 50% of its coffee went to Europe. The European Union is one of the largest importers of commodities linked to deforestation. That is why the European Parliament resolved in April 2023 the Regulation on making available on the Union market as well as export from the Union of certain commodities and products associated with deforestation and forest degradation – so called Regulation on deforest-free products (in the following: EU-DR). The new regulation repeals the Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timbe products on the market (so called Timber Regulation, in the following: EU-TR).

The EU-DR is ambitious. It addresses in general seven commodities which are linked to deforestation. Also, in contrast to the EU-TR, it is no longer relevant whether the deforestation takes place in a legal or illegal way. The only relevant criterion is the actual destruction of a forest. This is supposed to prevent the creation of wrong incentives for producing countries, who might otherwise be tempted to lower environmental standards to facilitate the access of their products to the EU if only legality controls were established in the proposal. Based on the EU’s experiences with the EU-TR, the EU-DR implements and improves the procedures created by the EU-TR.