The EU Council and the European Parliament have reached a provisional agreement on introducing an EU regulation aimed at stopping imports of goods that are linked to deforestation.
The European Commission has welcomed the political agreement, which comes 12 months after its initial proposal.
The commission said that the new law would ensure that a range of key goods placed on the EU market would no longer contribute to deforestation and forest degradation in the EU and elsewhere.
“Since the EU is a major economy and consumer of these commodities, this step will help stop a significant share of global deforestation and forest degradation, in turn reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and bio-diversity loss,” the EU body said.
List of commodities
The European Parliament and the EU Council will now formally have to adopt the new regulation before it can enter into force, after which operators and traders will have 18 months to implement the new rules.
Small firms will have a longer adaptation period, as well as other specific provisions.
When the new rules enter into force, all relevant companies will have to conduct “strict due diligence” when trading in palm oil, cattle, soy, coffee, cocoa, timber, and rubber, as well as derived products, such as beef, furniture, or chocolate.
The commission said that these commodities had been chosen on the basis of a thorough impact assessment identifying them as the main driver of deforestation due to agricultural expansion. The list is to be reviewed regularly.
Operators and traders will have to prove that the products are both deforestation-free (produced on land that was not subject to deforestation after 31 December 2020), and legal (compliant with all relevant applicable laws in force in the country of production).
Companies will also be required to collect precise geographical information on the farmland where the commodities that they source has been grown, so that these commodities can be checked for compliance.
The commission said that member states needed to make sure that there were “effective and dissuasive penalties” for not complying with the rules.