The proposal, which is associated with the EU’s FLEGT programme, makes importers and sellers responsible for the legality of timber and wood products.
The Finnish forest industry has been among the first to implement long-term efforts aiming to ensure the lawful origins of imported timber since the early 1990s. Companies observe the official regulations of the exporting country and only purchase timber that comes with the appropriate official documentation.
Under the EU’s proposed legislation, companies that import timber or wood products into the single market must have functioning systems for tracing the origins of these goods. The starting point in the Commission proposal is that companies themselves are best able to create functioning systems, which can then be confirmed or verified by an external party or the authorities.
"A system based on corporate responsibility is more cost-effective and functions more reliably than a system based on official supervision. Follow-up deliberation on the legislative proposal should focus on the problematic share of imports instead of imposing extra requirements on companies that have already implemented functioning monitoring systems,” says Anders Portin, Finnish Forest Industries Federation Senior Vice President in charge of forestry and infrastructure affairs.
Illegal logging is a significant problem – especially in countries outside Europe that also suffer from more general shortcomings in association with administration and the oversight of legality. The issue of the origins of timber has become a focus of debate in Europe because consumers want to be sure that the timber raw material and wood products they purchase come from a sustainable and lawful source.
In addition to intra-industry systems, the efforts of national authorities are also needed to redress any shortcomings in legislation and operating environments when necessary. The EU must also promote the development of good administrative and corporate governance practices beyond its own borders.
Anders Portin, Senior Vice President, Forestry and Infrastructure, tel. +358 (0)9 132 6610, +358 (0)40 586 6179