Illegal timber can still reach Europe two years after EU Timber Regulation created

Following a report published by the European Commission today, which shows that the EU Timber Regulation is still not being enforced effectively in several EU countries a full two and a half years after it was introduced, WWF is calling for stronger action to halt the trade in illegal timber.

The report also highlights the fact that some categories of wood-based products imported into the EU are still not covered by the EU Timber Regulation. This includes major groups of products such as printed materials , for example books, magazines and greeting cards, as well as chairs and musical instruments. WWF has long advocated that both these issues should be addressed by the European Commission.

Hendrikus van Hensbergen, Forest Policy and Trade Manager at WWF-UK said:

“This report clearly shows that, even after more than two years of the EU Timber Regulation being in place, European citizens still run the risk of buying products made of illegal timber. If we seriously want to stop the illegal timber trade, we urgently need all wooden products to be covered by the Regulation.

“We also need all 28 Member states to implement the Regulation effectively, carrying out appropriate checks on operators and ensuring strong penalties for those who flout it. The UK must demonstrate its commitment to halt deforestation and eradicate the illegal timber trade by supporting efforts to improve implementation at home and abroad.”

The Commission’s report follows a consultation in 2015, with stakeholders across the EU, on the effectiveness of the Regulation. Several concerns were raised including the fact that there had been a significant delay in implementing the law by some Member States. Lack of resources for enforcing the Regulation was identified as a key concern, along with the need to expand the scope of the regulation, as it currently covers only 41% of wood-based products sold within the EU (by value) according to WWF’s figures.

As part of our ongoing campaign to tighten this Regulation, WWF has demonstrated that a broad range of EU businesses, including those from the timber, paper, furniture, DIY and construction sectors, support its call to improve the EU Timber Regulation. 67 companies from 10 countries and 7 trade federations including the European Timber Trade Federation and its members have signed up to our statement calling for action.

The Commission will now conduct an impact assessment on options for tackling these issues and, based on this, propose changes to the Regulation over the coming months.