The European Commission has committed to publish, in June 2021, a legislative proposal to minimise the risk of deforestation and forest degradation associated with products placed on the European Union (EU) market. This briefing outlines NGO recommendations outlining what the proposed legislation should include.
We call on the European Commission to propose a regulation which would oblige operators to ensure, through the exercise of mandatory due diligence, that Forest and Ecosystem Risk Commodities (FERCs) or products derived from or containing them (Relevant Products) that they place on the EU market, comply with strict sustainability requirements. These requirements must address human rights impacts, deforestation, forest degradation and the conversion or degradation of natural ecosystems other than forests. The future regulation must apply from the start to a comprehensive list of commodities, identified according to objective and science-based criteria. It should provide for the possibility to regularly review and add additional commodities to this list if new commodities meet the same initial objective and science-based criteria. The initial list should include as a minimum, livestock products (such as beef, leather and poultry), soy, palm oil, timber, cocoa, coffee, rubber and maize.
We also call on the Commission to oblige both operators and subsequent traders on the EU market to ensure the traceability of their goods and the transparency of their supply chains. Last but not least, we call on the Commission to apply due diligence obligations to financial institutions to ensure that no financing goes to business activities that do not meet the sustainability requirements for FERCs and/or Relevant Products.
Regarding enforcement, we recommend a robust framework that includes: dissuasive and proportionate penalties for non-compliance; a network of well-resourced competent authorities that proactively carry out checks and controls; effective EU Member State complaint mechanisms and review procedures; and rights for third parties to seek redress before EU courts if they are harmed by any adverse impacts addressed by the proposal or by non-compliance with its requirements.
To conclude, we urge the EU to step up its dialogue with other consumer countries and to provide accompanying measures to support governments, civil society, and smallholders, as well as Indigenous Peoples and local communities in producer countries in order to address the underlying drivers of forest and ecosystem destruction and associated human rights violations.