(This page was last updated in February 2022)
EU Timber Regulation
The European Union is in the process of revising its regulatory framework for timber supply chains as part of its effort to act on deforestation linked to agricultural commodities. The process will likely affect the EU Timber Regulation and EU FLEGT Regulation. This page will be updated once the legal framework has been formally agreed upon in the European institutions.
For the time being, the EU Timber Regulation and EU FLEGT Regulation remain in force as described below. For more information and updates, please visit the dedicated site on illegal logging hosted by the European Commission.
The EU Timber Regulation (Regulation No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010) outlines the obligations of operators and traders who place timber and timber products on the European market. The Timber Regulation has three key components:
- It prohibits the placing of illegally harvested timber and products derived from illegally harvested timber on the EU market;
- It requires the “first placer” of timber products on the EU market to exercise due diligence; and
- It requires traders who deal in timber products after the first placing to keep records enabling basic traceability of supply chains.
The Regulation covers a wide, but not exhaustive, range of timber and wood products, including fuelwood, plywood, raw timber, sawn wood, pulp and paper, furniture, joinery, and barrels. It does not cover musical instruments, printed materials (i.e. books and newspapers), or wood products imported by individuals for personal use, among other categories. A partial list of products that are included in and excluded from the Regulation is available from the European Commission here.
"Due diligence" in the EUTR context requires operators to undergo a process to minimize their risk of placing illegally harvested products on the EU market. In practice, this is similar to the concept of "due care" in the U.S. Lacey Act, but in Europe, it is a prescriptive system with specific steps that must be followed. The three elements of the EU due diligence system are:
- Information: The operator must have access to information describing the timber and timber products, country of harvest, species, quantity, details of the supplier and information on compliance with national legislation.
- Risk assessment: The operator should assess the risk of illegal timber in the supply chain, based on the information identified during the first step, and taking into account criteria set out in the EUTR.
- Risk mitigation: When the assessment shows that there is a risk of illegal timber in the supply chain, the operator must mitigate that risk by requiring additional information and verification from the supplier.
"Monitoring organizations," which are officially recognized by the European Commission, are private entities (which can be for-profit or non-profit) responsible for providing operational due diligence systems to EU operators. The Competent Authorities of EU member states, which are government departments responsible for implementing the Regulation in their respective countries, must check monitoring organizations operating on their territory at "regular intervals," understood to be every 2 years.
Products carrying CITES or FLEGT licenses are considered to be legal by default under the EU Timber Regulation. This is a significant difference from the U.S. system, where no third-party licenses are recognized as proof of legality.
Excellent websites with additional resources on the EU Timber Regulation include the dedicated page on the Regulation at the European Commission and the Country Overviews compiled by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre. ClientEarth maintains a newsletter tracking the implementation of the EU Timber Regulation.