The EU is serious about pro­tec­ting the environment!

Update – Regu­la­ti­on on deforestation-free sup­p­ly chains

The legis­la­ti­ve pro­cess for the pro­po­sed regu­la­ti­on on deforestation-free sup­p­ly chains dated 17 Novem­ber 2021(as we repor­ted) at Green Deal is moving for­ward. The first rea­ding in the ple­na­ry ses­si­on of the EU Par­lia­ment took place on 14 Sep­tem­ber 2022, with mem­bers at the ple­na­ry ses­si­on agre­e­ing to a com­pro­mi­se pro­po­sal that would signi­fi­cant­ly expand the scope of the draft. In June, the Coun­cil of Minis­ters had alre­a­dy published a expl­ana­to­ry memo­ran­dum on the EU Com­mis­si­on’s pro­po­sed regu­la­ti­on, which may speed up the legis­la­ti­ve pro­cess. This shows the rele­van­ce of the issue at the EU level.

Even befo­re the first rea­ding of the draft regu­la­ti­on in the ple­na­ry ses­si­on of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, the Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Uni­on had alre­a­dy agreed on a so-called “gene­ral approach” (poli­ti­cal agree­ment) on 28 June 2022, repre­sen­ting the start­ing posi­ti­on for the Coun­cil’s fur­ther nego­tia­ti­ons in the legis­la­ti­ve pro­cess. In this con­text, the Coun­cil agreed on a mode­ra­te exten­si­on of the scope of the regu­la­ti­on, so that the rele­vant pro­ducts lis­ted in Annex I will in future also include char­co­al, wood wool and wood flour. Accor­ding to the Coun­cil’s memo­ran­dum, bin­ding due dili­gence requi­re­ments should app­ly to all mar­ket par­ti­ci­pan­ts and trad­ers. In pre­pa­ring due dili­gence decla­ra­ti­ons, SMEs are given the opti­on of rely­ing on lar­ger eco­no­mic ope­ra­tors. At the same time, the thres­holds for man­da­to­ry con­trols by com­pe­tent aut­ho­ri­ties and mini­mum con­trol levels were redu­ced. Fur­ther­mo­re, the estab­lish­ment of a bench­mar­king sys­tem was agreed upon accor­ding to which the defo­re­sta­ti­on risk in the EU as well as in third count­ries is to be clas­si­fied into three cate­go­ries: “low”, “nor­mal” and “high”, on which both the scope of the audit inten­si­ty by the aut­ho­ri­ties and the scope of the due dili­gence requi­re­ments to be com­pli­ed with by the eco­no­mic actors are to be based in the future. Moreo­ver, a stron­ger focus was pla­ced on human rights.

The Euro­pean Par­lia­ment also adopted its posi­ti­on in the first rea­ding on 14 Sep­tem­ber 2022, and appro­ved a com­pro­mi­se pro­po­sal from the Par­lia­men­t’s ENVI Com­mit­tee that is signi­fi­cant­ly stric­ter than the Coun­cil’s demands. This pro­vi­des for a signi­fi­cant expan­si­on of the mate­ri­al scope of appli­ca­ti­on and would like to see pork, sheep and goats, poul­try, corn, rub­ber, char­co­al and prin­ted paper pro­ducts regu­la­ted as raw mate­ri­als and/or pro­ducts in the future. Of par­ti­cu­lar prac­ti­cal signi­fi­can­ce is that the appli­ca­ble date by which the new rules must be obser­ved has been moved up by one year from 31 Decem­ber 2020 to 31 Decem­ber 2019, which means that no raw mate­ri­als and/or pro­ducts based on defo­re­sta­ti­on or forest degra­da­ti­on may be pla­ced on the mar­ket after the new regu­la­ti­on comes into force. The­re is agree­ment with the Coun­cil that grea­ter focus must be pla­ced on human rights and the rights of indi­ge­nous peoples.

Con­clu­si­on

It remains to be seen whe­ther the Coun­cil will accept the Par­lia­men­t’s posi­ti­on and adopt the regu­la­ti­on in a time­ly man­ner. What is cer­tain is that a regu­la­ti­on is coming. Howe­ver, due to the obvious­ly mas­si­ve dif­fe­ren­ces bet­ween the various posi­ti­ons, fur­ther nego­tia­ti­ons and a second rea­ding in par­lia­ment are likely to be neces­sa­ry, which could take place as ear­ly as within three months. In any case, with the new pro­po­sed regu­la­ti­on, the EU is making it clear that it is very serious about pro­tec­ting the envi­ron­ment and species.

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