More than two years have passed since the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) came into legal force.
Designed to curb the availability of illegal timber on the European market, the EUTR acknowledges Europe’s role in stimulating illegal logging.
Since mid-2014, the European Commission has released a series of scorecards comparing the status of EUTR implementation by all 28 Member States.
Last August, EIA reported on the first of these, noting the poor uptake of the Regulation throughout the EU. Only 57 per cent of Member States were considered to have fulfilled their obligations on the three key components – establishing a competent authority, setting penalties and conducting checks.
Ten months later and there has been a 25 per cent increase, with 82 per cent of Member States now realising their full range of obligations.
While the updated scorecard reflects improvements, significant shortfalls remain. Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Spain still have not satisfied their obligations and the Commission has confirmed to EIA that formal infringement cases are under way against Greece, Hungary and Spain.
Efforts to strengthen implementation should focus on allocating and training resources to ensure that the competent authorities have the capacity to act on their responsibilities competently. Across the EU, budgets are tight and in some states the arduous task of implementing the regulation has been found to rest on the shoulders of a single employee.
Campaigners have repeatedly urged the Commission to strengthen the EUTR and sanction non-compliance so that loopholes for illegal timber do not develop across the EU.
With formal infringement cases under way, hopefully the next scorecard update will show a 100 per cent fulfillment of obligations.