Illegal logging is the harvesting of timber in contravention of the laws and regulations of the country of harvest. It is a global problem with significant negative economic, environmental and social impact. Illegal logging
- results in lost revenues and other benefits
- is associated with deforestation, climate change and a loss of biodiversity
- is linked to conflicts over land and resources, the disempowerment of local and indigenous communities, corruption and armed conflicts
Illegal activities also undermine the efforts of responsible operators by making cheaper, but illegal timber and timber products available.
The EU aims to:
- work with partner countries to improve forest governance and capacity building
- oblige operators who place timber and timber products on the EU market to exert due diligence to minimise the risk of importing illegally harvested timber
- promote dialogue and cooperation with other major markets
- be effective in raising awareness and contributing to forest governance globally
- help reduce demand for illegal timber in the EU
The FLEGT Action Plan adopted in 2003 led to two key pieces of legislation to fight illegal logging and associated trade: the EU Timber Regulation and the FLEGT Regulation.
EU Timber Regulation
The EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) (Regulation (EU) No 995/2010) entered into application on 3 March 2013 and will be repealed when the Regulation on deforestation-free products enters into application on 30 December 2024.
The EUTR outlines the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market, to counter the trade of illegally harvested timber and timber products. It applies to both imported and domestically produced timber and timber products. It covers a broad range of timber products, including solid wood products, flooring, plywood, pulp and paper. Not included are recycled products, as well as printed papers such as books, magazines and newspapers.
The main objectives of the EUTR are to:
- Prohibit the placement of illegally harvested timber and products derived from such timber on the EU market.
- Require EU operators to exercise due diligence to minimise the risk of placing illegally harvested timber, or timber products containing illegally harvested timber on the EU market. To this end, the operators should:
- Have access to information describing the timber and timber products, country of harvest, species, quantity, details of the supplier and information on compliance with the applicable national legislation.
- Assess the risk of having illegal timber in his supply chain, based on the information identified above and taking into account criteria set out in the regulation.
- Mitigate the risk of illegal timber entering the supply chain by requiring additional information and verification from the supplier.
- Require EU traders to keep records of their suppliers and customers
EUTR secondary legislation
- Commission delegated Regulation (EU) No 363/2012 of 23.2.2012 on the procedural rules for the recognition and withdrawal of recognition of monitoring organisations as provided for in Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market.
- Commission implementing Regulation (EU) No 607/2012 of 6 July 2012 on the detailed rules concerning the due diligence system and the frequency and nature of the checks on monitoring organisations as provided for in Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market
- Regulation (EU) 2019/1010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2019 on the alignment of reporting obligations in the field of legislation related to the environment (for the EUTR, please refer to Article 8)
- EU Customs code nomenclature
- Corrigendum to German version of Regulation (EU) 995/2010 published in OJ L 48 on 11 February 2021
- Corrigendum to Danish and Swedish versions of Regulation (EU) 995/2010 published in OJ L 65 on 04 March 2020
- Member States are required to submit Reports to the Commission on the implementation of the EUTR. Based on these reports, the Commission submits a report to the European Parliament and the Council. Available EUTR Reports and Reviews
- Under the EUTR, monitoring organisations, recognised by the European Commission and which are private entities, provide EU operators with operational due diligence systems which they can use.
- The Expert Group/Multi-Stakeholder Platform on Protecting and Restoring the World's Forests works on two strands: the implementation of the EU Timber Regulation and the FLEGT Regulation, and the implementation of the Regulation on Deforestation-free products. The members of the Platform for the EUTR/FLEGT strand include the EU Member States Competent authorities and selected stakeholder organisations. See the agendas, presentations and summary records of the meetings of the Expert Group/Platform under the “Meetings” tab in the Register.
- The EU Timber Trade helps users identify key trading partners, temporal trends and commodities in trade, supporting EU Competent Authorities in planning their compliance checks on operators.
EUTR studies and publications
- EUTR Guidance Document available in all the EU languages
- Guidance document on the verification of legality in timber trade for CITES-listed tree species imported into the EU
- Additional guidance on the following matters agreed by the FLEGT/EUTR Expert Group: Recycled timber and timber products, Substantiated concerns, Risk mitigation measures, Consideration of prevalence of armed conflict and sanctions in Due Diligence Systems, and Due Diligence.
- Study on certification and verification schemes in the forest sector and for wood-based products
- Country overviews provide information on forest management, legislation and potential risks of illegality from different timber source countries and timber supply chains. So far, country overviews are available for: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Malaysia, Myanmar, Republic of the Congo.
- Member States’ conclusions on the application of Articles 4(2) and 6 of the EUTR to timber imports from Brazil and Myanmar.
- Briefing notes on developments relevant to the implementation and enforcement of the EU Timber Regulation, and on sourcing of deforestation-free commodities.
The Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No 2173/2005) entered into force in 2005 with the objective to regulate the control of the entry of timber to the EU from countries entering into bilateral Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA).
Annual overviews and key obligations/practical aspects of implementation and enforcement of the FLEGT Regulation are available here.
Fitness Check on the EU Timber Regulation and the FLEGT Regulation
A Fitness Check of the EUTR and the FLEGT Regulation was performed in 2021 to evaluate their implementation and functioning, and assess if they were fit for purpose to halt illegal logging and associated trade.
- Executive Summary of the Fitness Check
- Staff Working Document on the Fitness Check
- Public consultation on “Illegal logging – evaluation of EU rules (fitness check)”
- Consultancy Report on the Fitness Check + Annex
The evaluation of the EUTR showed that it improved the situation in third countries. EU trade partners took steps to strengthen their forest governance systems and reduce illegal logging to meet the requirements of the Regulation. The due diligence approach allowed flexibility to respond to new and emerging challenges linked to illegal logging and illegal land use change. Therefore, the Regulation on deforestation-free products integrates and improves the framework set up with the EUTR.
On FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements, the main findings were that the core objective of this instrument - to tackle illegal logging and associated trade globally - had not been met. There had been no discernible advance of VPA partner countries over other producer countries in reducing the level of illegal logging, with the notable exception of Indonesia. After almost 20 years, only one VPA country out of 15 being engaged in a VPA process with the EU had an operating licensing system in place. Positive results were however identified in terms of advancing stakeholder engagement with civil society, governance reforms, transparency, codes of conduct and social safeguards.
- The EU has intensified its cooperation with other consumer and processing countries to address illegal logging.
- An increasing number of EU countries are adopting green public procurement policies requiring timber and timber products to come from legal and sustainable sources. Countries implementing such policies include , , , and the . Many EU private sector timber trade and retail federations and companies have made commitments through Codes of Conduct to eliminate illegally harvested timber from their supply chains. In addition some banks have put in place policies to ensure their clients are not associated with illegal logging activities.
- Capacity-building is an important element of the FLEGT Action Plan, particularly for developing countries. The Commission is working with EU countries to provide such capacity-building through its development cooperation instruments, including support to NGOs and private sector actions.