Legally binding agreement on European forests to be concluded by the end of the year

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The fourth and final scheduled hearing was held in mid-June in Poland. Participating nations came to a shared understanding regarding commitments on forests and their sustainable utilisation. An accord was not reached on questions dealing with administration, voting and stakeholder participation, however.

Negotiations will continue in the autumn and the goal remains to achieve a draft agreement that forestry ministers could approve before the end of the current year. The Finnish Forest Industries Federation took part in the meeting as a member of the Finnish delegation.

Member State decision-making power must be safeguarded in forest policy

Forest policy is primarily the responsibility of the Member States within the EU and their decision-making power must be safeguarded in the agreement with respect to all forest-related issues that are not subject to the Union’s common policies.

From the Finnish Forest Industries Federation’s point of view the commitments now agreed on represent a reasonable compromise and will probably not cause revisions to Finland’s existing forest legislation.

All parties to the negotiations agreed that the agreement should be sanctioned under the UN. Russia, Ukraine and Switzerland support passing the agreement under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, while Norway and Turkey back the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). The EU, for now, also sides with the FAO camp, even though Member State views on the matter are divergent. 

A decision also needs to be made regarding the right of stakeholder groups to participate in meetings in the capacity of observer organisations. In the EU’s view, an individual stakeholder group can be included with the approval of two-thirds of signatory nations, while Russia is calling for full unanimity between signatory countries.

Further information: Karoliina Niemi, Senior Adviser, Forestry,
tel. +358 9 132 6679, +358 50 567 9093