On the 13 September 2022 the EU Parliament voted to agree on the EU Commission’s 2021 long-awaited proposal for a new law that aims to stop commodities such as palm oil, beef, leather, soy, cocoa, coffee or wood produced through deforestation or human rights abuses being placed on the EU markets.
EIA welcomes this proposal and has been urging policy makers in the EU to propose and adopt such a law for over five years. Through our own work and in close collaboration with our Brussels coalition, we have sent several joint briefings and held many meetings with the Commission, the Council and Members of Parliament.
Recognising the EU’s role in consuming commodities through deforestation, the EU is now moving forward to ensure consumers can safely purchase these forest risk commodities – assured of their provenance. The law proposes a new due diligence regulation for companies so they can make certain these commodities and products can only be sold and exported to and from the EU if they are free from deforestation, degradation, and human rights abuses.
The EU Parliaments position is a step in the right direction, it goes beyond the Commissions already ambitious proposal and is largely in line with what EIA and more than one hundred CSOs around the world have been campaigning for.
Hundreds of Members of the EU Parliament (MEPs) yesterday voted in line with its own very progressive Environment Committees take on the legislation. The progressive additions to the Commission’s proposal includes several improved elements such as (but not limited to!):
- Larger scope of products, to add more livestock beyond cattle such as pigmeat, sheep, goats and poultry in addition to maize and rubber as well as charcoal and printed paper products. Moreover, MEPs propose in a review clause that mining and ethanol be considered in the near future.
- Larger scope of companies, to add financial institutions based or dealing in the EU and providing financial services to companies or legal persons whose economic activities consist, or are linked to, the production, supply, placing on or export of forest risk commodities and associated products.
- Beyond forests, MEPs propose to also include other wooded lands and in the future a review clause for other biodiverse endangered ecosystems such as wetlands and grasslands and peatlands.
- Earlier cut off date, instead of the Commissions 2020 date, MEPs propose 31 December 2019. An earlier cutoff date is also supported by CSOs around the world including 35 Indonesian CSOs (although they propose much earlier date of 2000).
- Stronger enforcement, including increased minimum percentage of checks by Member States across all levels of risk and especially when importing commodities from high risk countries in addition to the obligation to publish a public list of companies who haven’t respected the regulation.
- Inclusion of human rights, MEPs propose to fully include respect for international human rights including Indigenous Peoples rights and ensuring free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).
- Continued support for no green lane for certification schemes. Certification schemes cannot be relied upon to deliver the requirements of the proposed regulation. The limitations of certification schemes have been widely documented for palm oil, (EIA 2015[i]; EIA 2018[ii]; EIA 2019[iii],[iv]) timber[v],[vi], soy[vii] and other commodities.
The regulations final text will now be negotiated by the EU’s three institutions, the Council, Comission and Parliament – jointly.
EIA applauds these recommendations but also notes there is much more work to ensure its aims are achieved. For instance, it remains to be seen how the EU will engage in essential strong meaningful partnerships with producer countries to address the root causes of deforestation, support national processes and create systemic changes that will have long-lasting effects.
Key partnerships will also be needed with other large consumer countries to ensure leakage to these markets of deforestation is minimized and only then can change in global consumption patterns be realized.
This is a key opportunity for forests worldwide and EIA is working in Brussels in collaboration with other CSOs to ensure this regulation is as robust and effective as it is ambitious.
[vi] Guedes Pinto and McDermott 2013. Equity and forest certification — A case study in Brazil. Forest Policy and Economics Volume 30, Pages 23-29 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1389934113000464?via%3Dihub
[vii] Heron et al. 2018. Global Value Chains and the Governance of ‘Embedded’ Food Commodities: The Case of Soy. Volume 9, Issue S2, Pages 29-37 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1758-5899.12611