With borders closed and staff working from home, Covid-19 is affecting most of the work the EU has planned for 2020. This quick explainer looks at ongoing processes that will have an effect on forests to see which timings have changed.
- The European Parliament (EP) may be closed, but activities have not been suspended. Although many Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have returned to their respective countries and events have been cancelled, online work continues as much possible.
- The EP’s Committee on Environment is preparing two Own Initiative reports (INI Report) related to halting deforestation through supply chains. Find out more about the general process here.
The first report, 2019/2156(INI) Stepping up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World’s Forests, is a reaction to the Commission’s July 2019 Communication by the same name. A vote in the ENVI Committee on this INI report will take place at the end of June and in the plenary session in early July.
The second is a legislative report that will focus on 2020/2006(INL), An EU legal framework to halt and reverse EU-driven global deforestation. The ENVI committee will vote on this legislative INI report in September; the plenary vote is scheduled for October.
For its part, the Commission’s public consultation about its Communication on Stepping Up Action to Protect the World’s Forests remains on track and will be launched sometime before the summer.
- The revised EU Forest Strategy is set to be published in the last quarter of 2020. Parliament groups have recently submitted their amendments to the draft Parliament report, “The European Forest Strategy – The Way Forward”, led by the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI). Between 20 - 24 April, final compromise amendments will be created based on the amendments put together by different parties. A vote in ENVI will take place 27 - 28 April, to be followed by a vote in plenary planned for June 2020. Information on the status of the policy process can be found here.
- As of 1 April 2020, there is no delay in the parliamentary agenda for the Climate Law (2020/0036(COD) Framework for achieving climate neutrality). Virtual conversations are continuing, and information can be found at the EU legislative observatory. The draft report is expected on 27 April; the amendment deadline is 3 June. The Environment Committee will vote on 6 July; the vote in plenary is still planned for September.
- The timeline has not changed regarding the 2030 Climate Target Roadmap. Feedback for the Commission to further develop the initiative is open until 15 April; public consultation on the roadmap is open until 23 June.
- The Commission’s launch of the Biodiversity Strategy has been pushed back to 29 April; and the Parliament report that follows it will be delayed as well.
- It is not clear what will happen with the EU budget stalemate. Will the NDICI (Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument) and its support for forests and the environment be sacrificed on the altar of geopolitical and security interests? See FW 253, our briefing and follow European updates here.
- The EU has adopted a new Partnership and Comprehensive Strategy with Africa. In its Communication, the Commission proposed to work together on five key global trends including a Green Transition and Energy Access. The European Parliament is working on an INI report to respond to the Communication and posed important questions to the Commission. Civil society should monitor discussions between EU and African leaders ahead of the EU/Africa Summit (initially planned for October 2020 in Brussels) to ensure that this renewed Partnership include its NaturAfrica initiative puts human rights and the needs of vulnerable groups at the heart of environmental and development efforts and that MEPs send a strong signal to Member States to fully support an ambitious strategy that contributes to a resilient and prosperous continent. See a question and answer here.
- Forest Movement Europe: It is unclear whether it will be possible to hold the FME from 23 - 25 June in France. The co-organisers spoke amongst themselves and decided that the issue should be revisited in early May, hoping for a better perspective on where the world will be at the end of June. Options include (a) holding it in June (b) postponing it until early autumn or (c) postponing it until spring/summer 2021.