European Commission President urged to hold the line against efforts to undermine EU deforestation law

EIA and more than 170 NGOs have jointly written to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to express their utmost support for the EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR), which will come into effect in December.

President von der Leyen introduced the world-leading legislation in November 2021 to accelerate the fight against global deforestation and forest degradation.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen


In recent months, some industry figures and EU Member States representatives have been advocating for a delay in the implementation timetable established by the Commission and, in so doing, seek to undermine the Regulation.

The EU is a major consumer of key forest-risk commodities (cattle, wood, cocoa, soy, palm oil, coffee, rubber and some of their derived products, such as leather, chocolate, tyres and furniture).

Oil palm plantation, East Kalimantan, Indonesia (c) EIA

The expansion of agricultural land to produce these commodities is a major driver of global deforestation and forest degradation.

EIA Senior Forests Campaigner Sophie Bennett said: “To delay an agreed piece of legislation at this stage will not only send mixed signals to the global markets but also undermine the democratic process that took place to enable an ambitious move to combat the problem.”

The EUDR, adopted with broad support from legislators in June 2023, seeks to ensure EU citizens’ consumption of these commodities does not contribute to the destruction of forests around the world.

By prohibiting products that are linked to deforestation and are illegally produced from being sold in, or exported from, the EU market, the EUDR is expected to reduce the EU’s impact on global deforestation and forest degradation, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss, and improving forest governance. It also promotes a level playing field for businesses that adhere to rules and regulations and enhances transparency of the origin and chain of custody.

The organisations supporting the letter represent a broad spectrum of the NGO sector, from those tackling climate change and biodiversity loss to those working towards sustainability and upholding human rights. This includes regional and national grassroots organisations to those with global outlooks, from research bodies and consultancies to certification schemes and advocacy groups representing businesses and NGOs. Their common interest is their support for the swift implementation of the EUDR, demonstrating the large-scale support for this vital legislation.

Bennett added: “At a time when the climate and biodiversity crises are becoming increasingly urgent, NGOs are urging President von der Leyen to fulfil her commitment and meet the objectives set by the legislation.

“We argue that, for this and future generations, this crucial legislation is needed now more than ever.”