Environment MEPs call on commission to stop ‘EU-driven deforestation’

The European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee has adopted a report calling on the European Commission to “stop EU-driven global deforestation”.

The committee adopted the report with 45 members voting in favour and 11 voting against, with 25 abstentions.

The report calls on the commission to introduce binding legislation for mandatory due-diligence for companies placing products on the EU market.

Currently, there is no EU legislation prohibiting products that contribute to the destruction of forests from being placed on the European market, and consumers do not know whether or not the products they buy contribute to deforestation.

This is the first time the committee will make use of the possibility in the Treaty for Parliament to ask the commission to come forward with binding legislation.

Environment MEPs say that “voluntary initiatives, third-party certification and labels have so far failed to halt deforestation worldwide”.

The committee is calling for a new EU legal framework based on “mandatory due diligence, reporting, disclosure and third party participation requirements”.

The report calls for penalties for companies that place products on the EU market derived from commodities that endanger forests and ecosystems.

“All operators on the EU market must ensure that their products can be traced to be able to identify their origin and ensure the rules are enforced,” the committee said in a statement.

According to the committee, the report refers to several studies showing that prohibiting the entry into the EU of products linked to deforestation will have no impact on volume and price and that any extra costs incurred by operators would be minimal.

It would also benefit businesses, the MEPs argued, as it would “level the playing field by holding competitors to the same standards”.

MEPs also state that such an EU legal framework should also be extended to include high-carbon stock and biodiversity-rich ecosystems other than forests, such as marine and coastal ecosystems, wetlands, peatlands or savannahs, to avoid pressure being shifted onto these landscapes.

The report also calls on the commission to providing binding definitions of what constitutes ‘deforestation’ and ‘forest degradation’.

Finally, the report underlines that EU trade and investment policy should include binding and enforceable sustainable development chapters that “fully respect international commitments”.