MADRID – The ministries of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Industry, Trade and Tourism, Finance and Ecological Transition have joined forces to work on a proposed regulation to ensure that imports of raw materials from tropical countries no longer cause deforestation or habitat degradation in those countries.
In November, the European Commission and the European Parliament presented a proposal for a regulation. This future EU regulation should ensure that raw materials and commodities imported into the EU do not lead to deforestation and forest degradation. This would include coffee, soy, palm oil, wood, or cocoa. If the regulation is adopted, the EU Timber Regulation will be repealed. According to the EU, legislation is needed because “the rate of deforestation and forest degradation is alarming. With climate change and loss of biodiversity as a consequence’.
Spain steps ahead of European regulation
Spain is now in the phase of informing the public about this process in order to establish a position. This is according to sources from the Spanish news site Europa Press. The Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge has launched a public consultation for this purpose. During this national review, which lasts until February 17, Spain is working internally on its own proposal for a regulation. Furthermore, Spain is evaluating the impact and internal rules of implementation and looking at a possible tightening of the European regulation.
More farmland needed
The main factor leading to deforestation and forest degradation is the expansion of farmland for livestock. And also the demand for raw materials such as wood, palm oil, soy, cocoa and coffee. With the growth of the world population, the demand for agricultural products, especially animal products, is also increasing. As a result, the demand for agricultural land will increase and with it the pressure on forests. At the same time, climate change is also affecting food production.
Conditions in the regulation
Raw materials and derived products covered by the regulation are intended to be imported, placed on the market, or exported within the European Union only if they meet several conditions. They must be ‘deforestation free’; produced in accordance with the relevant legislation in the country of production, and accompanied by a declaration of due diligence. Specifically, products produced after 31 December 2020 on land where no deforestation has occurred and timber harvested after that date without causing forest destruction are considered ‘deforestation-free’.
Who is affected by the regulation?
The regulation applies to importers, exporters, European producers, and traders of said raw materials and derived products. In particular, operators and traders other than small and medium-sized enterprises will – before importing, marketing, or exporting these commodities or products – have to exercise due diligence and assess the risk that the products have caused deforestation in their production or are illegal in the country of origin.
The EU proposal will therefore require them to submit a declaration confirming that such care has been taken. This declaration will be submitted through the ‘register’. Furthermore, the European Commission will set this up and maintain it centrally for all member states.
Rules for SME
Small and medium-sized traders must demonstrate the traceability of their products, i.e. they must have information on both the agents or traders they buy from and the traders they sell to and keep this documentation for five years.
Who controls and enforces?
Each of the 27 Member States will have to designate one or more competent authorities responsible for the enforcement of this regulation and for monitoring compliance by agents and traders with their obligations, for which an annual monitoring plan will be drawn up.