NGOs requested that the Council express strong support for this Programme, which is already reducing illegal logging and strengthening forest governance. The Council did exactly that.
The Conclusions emphasise the strengths of the Action Plan and specifically note the innovative approach of linking demand-side and supply-side measures through a dual focus on improving forest governance and on controlling illegal timber. They also stress that more attention must be devoted to finance and investment safeguards by public and private financial institutions. A forthcoming report by Fern will zero in on this, underscoring that EU banks must be the specific focus of attention.
Concerning the EU Timber Regulation to ban illegally sourced timber from the EU market, the Council notes “important gaps and inconsistencies in the products covered by the Regulation,” opening the possibility to increase the scope of regulated products. NGOs campaigning to broaden the rule’s scope to include printed paper and all furniture will be pleased.
Noting that agricultural expansion is a key driver of forest loss, the Council encourages the European Commission to examine options to tackle the drivers of deforestation and degradation, and to examine how FLEGT can continue to address these challenges.
Importantly also, the Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions, 12 May 2016, called for initiatives to establish responsible supply chains in the garment and agricultural sector, as well as to support FLEGT. Together, these Conclusions provide not only support to FLEGT, but also openings to address the EU’s consumption of illegally and unsustainably produced agricultural commodities so that the EU can meet its commitments to halt deforestation by 2020.