BRUSSELS, Dec. 6 (.) –
The European Parliament has reached an agreement at dawn this Tuesday with the governments of the European Union (EU) on a new law on products free of deforestation that affects, among others, coffee, cocoa or palm oil, and will require companies to verify and issue a so-called “due diligence” statement that traded goods have not led to deforestation and forest degradation anywhere in the world after December 31, 2020.
According to the agreed text, although no country or merchandise will be banned as such, companies will not be able to sell their products in the EU without this type of declaration, in addition to having to verify compliance with the relevant legislation of the country of production, including the regarding human rights and respect for the affected indigenous peoples.
The new law will guarantee European consumers that the products they buy do not contribute to the destruction and degradation of forests and would thus reduce the EU’s contribution to global climate change and biodiversity loss.
The products covered by the new legislation are livestock, cocoa, coffee, palm oil, soybeans and timber, including products that contain, have been fed with or have been manufactured using these raw materials (such as leather , chocolate and furniture), as in the original proposal of the European Commission.
During the talks, MEPs have also added rubber, charcoal, printed paper products and a number of palm oil derivatives to this list, as well as a broader definition of forest degradation that includes the conversion of primary forests. or naturally regenerating forests in forest plantations or on other wooded land and the conversion of primary forests to planted forests.
The Commission will assess, one year after the entry into force, whether to extend the scope to other wooded land and, at the latest, two years after the entry into force, the Commission will also assess the scope to other ecosystems , including land with high carbon stocks and high biodiversity value, as well as other commodities.
Brussels will also analyze the need to oblige EU financial institutions to provide financial services to their clients only if they consider that there is an insignificant risk that these services do not cause deforestation.
The European Parliament and the Council will have to formally approve the agreement and the new law will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Gazette of the EU, although some articles will apply 18 months later.
EU competent authorities will have access to relevant information provided by companies, such as geolocation coordinates, and will carry out checks and may, for example, use satellite tracking tools and DNA analysis to check where products come from.
The Commission will classify the countries, or part of them, in low, standard or high risk within a period of 18 months from the entry into force of this regulation, and the proportion of controls to the operators will be carried out according to the level of country risk: 9% for high risk, 3% for standard risk and 1% for low risk. In the case of high-risk countries, Member States will also have to control 9% of the total volumes.
Sanctions for non-compliance will be proportionate and dissuasive, and the maximum amount of the fine is set at at least 4% of the total annual EU turnover of the non-compliant operator or trader.