`E.U. to Halt Imports Derived from Deforestation - Olive Oil Times

E.U. to Halt Imports Derived from Deforestation

By Paolo DeAndreis
Dec. 12, 2022 15:02 UTC

An agree­ment just reached between the two leg­isla­tive bod­ies of the European Union (the European Council and the European Parliament) will halt the import of goods pro­duced in defor­ested areas. The new rules will make the 27-mem­ber coun­try block the most rel­e­vant eco­nomic area halt­ing the import of many prod­ucts derived from palm oil, tim­ber, soy, cof­fee, cocoa, rub­ber and beef.

The European Council and the European Parliament will soon for­mally adopt the reg­u­la­tion. After two years, the list will be revis­ited and other prod­ucts might be added.

The European Union is a major con­sumer of the listed com­modi­ties, and its imports are known to play a major role in the pro­gres­sive loss of for­est cover.

See Also:E.U. Moves to Block Deforestation-Derived Imports, Including Some Palm Oil

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), from 1990 to 2020, 420 mil­lion hectares of for­est were lost, mostly because of the con­ver­sion to farm­land and other uses. That area is approx­i­mately equal to the dimen­sion of the European Union itself, which cov­ers 423.4 mil­lion hectares.

Large-scale com­mer­cial agri­cul­ture (pri­mar­ily cat­tle ranch­ing and cul­ti­va­tion of soya bean and oil palm) accounted for 40 per­cent of trop­i­cal defor­esta­tion between 2000 and 2010, and local sub­sis­tence agri­cul­ture for another 33 per­cent,” the lat­est FAO report on defor­esta­tion noted.

Technology will play a major role in the new import infra­struc­ture, as GPS-track­ing will be used by oper­a­tors to pin­point the ori­gin of their prod­ucts.

According to a note by the European Council, the new rules will also reduce bureau­cratic hangups for both oper­a­tors and author­i­ties. Small com­pa­nies will be able to team up with large com­pa­nies to pre­pare the due dili­gence dec­la­ra­tions asso­ci­ated with the exported goods.

The new reg­u­la­tion uses the term for­est degra­da­tion.” Borrowed from the FAO, for­est degra­da­tion is defined as, the struc­tural changes to for­est cover, tak­ing the form of the con­ver­sion of nat­u­rally regen­er­at­ing forests and pri­mary forests into plan­ta­tion forests and other wooded land and the con­ver­sion of pri­mary forests into planted forests.”

As noted by the European Council, the new reg­u­la­tion sets December 31st, 2020, as the cut-off date. This means, that only prod­ucts that have been pro­duced on land that has not been sub­ject to defor­esta­tion or for­est degra­da­tion after such date will be allowed on the Union mar­ket, or to be exported.”

Other mea­sures will include a bench­mark­ing sys­tem, which assigns a spe­cific risk rat­ing based on defor­esta­tion to European Union coun­tries and out­side part­ners. The risk cat­e­gories (low, stan­dard, high) will affect the level of bureau­cracy and types of con­trol processes required for export.

A high-risk rat­ing will also trig­ger tighter con­trols on the traded goods, with checks on up to nine per­cent of oper­a­tors. Countries with a stan­dard risk rat­ing will receive checks on three per­cent of oper­a­tors, and those with a low-risk rat­ing will receive checks on one per­cent of oper­a­tors.

The agree­ment also takes into account human rights aspects linked to defor­esta­tion, includ­ing the right to free, prior and informed con­sent by indige­nous peo­ples,” the Council wrote.

Fines will be pro­por­tion­ate to the envi­ron­men­tal dam­age and the value of the rel­e­vant com­modi­ties or prod­ucts con­cerned.” The min­i­mum fine will equal at least 4 per­cent of the operator’s yearly turnover in European Union exports. Additionally, the oper­a­tor will receive a tem­po­rary exclu­sion from pub­lic pro­cure­ment processes and access to pub­lic fund­ing.

After for­mal rat­i­fi­ca­tion by the European Union, the new reg­u­la­tion will give large oper­a­tors 18 months and small oper­a­tors 24 months to adjust to the new rules.


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