European Commission evaluates EU Timber Regulation implementation: finds progress but needs more effort

The European Commission (EC) recently released a report that evaluates the first two years of implementation of the EU Timber Regulation, which went into effect on March 3, 2013. Since then, some Member States have developed guidance and campaigns to publicize the requirements of the regulation and taken action against operators who are not in compliance. This includes conducting checks, issuing warnings, sanctions and penalties, and confiscating timber. However, many other Member States have been slow to implement the regulation; Greece, Hungary, Romania and Spain* are still at various stages of fulfilling their obligations to implement the Regulation.

The main findings of the evaluation report include:

  • Implementation of the EUTR has helped draw attention in the EU to the issue of illegal logging and the illegal trade of illegal wood products.
  • Competent Authorities (CAs) have not been supported with adequate human and financial resources to implement the mandates of the EUTR to reach the highest level of effectiveness.
  • Compliance with due diligence requirements in the private sector has been uneven and insufficient.
  • Costs of compliance vary considerably across Member States and different actors in the private sector, which may undermine the goal to raise the demand for legal wood and place pressure on the illegal timber market.
  • According to a Global Timber Forum study on small and medium enterprises’ compliance with due diligence requirements, small businesses have been able to effectively implement due diligence systems.
  • A determination of impact on trade flows and illegal supplies cannot be made at this point.

Overall, “the evaluation has revealed that the EUTR has the potential to achieve its objectives. However, further consistent efforts are needed from both the Member States and the private sector before an effective and efficient application can be achieved.”

The results of the report will inform the continued efforts to better enforce and implement the EU Timber Regulation. Most recently, the EC released a revised guidance document for EUTR implementation. For the full EUTR evaluation report and executive summary, visit the European Commission’s website.

*For an update on these countries’ latest implementation actions, see Client Earth’s newsletter on EUTR news)