21 April 2023
The European Parliament has approved a law to ban imports of beef, coffee and other commodities if they are linked to deforestation, writes Leatherbiz.
An area larger than the EU was lost to deforestation between 1990 and 2020, according to the Parliament, with EU consumption causing around 10% of losses.
The new rules are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss.
As we reported in December, companies will be required to collect precise geographical information on the farmland where the commodities that they source have been grown, so that these commodities can be checked for compliance.
They will also have to verify that these products comply with relevant legislation of the country of production, including on human rights, and that the rights of affected indigenous people have been respected.
As well as cattle, cocoa, coffee, palm oil, soybeans and wood, articles that derive from these, including leather products, are included.
COTANCE, the tanning industry’s representative body in Europe, lobbied unsuccessfully for leather to be exempt from these rules.
The Commission will classify countries, or parts thereof, as low-, standard- or high-risk based through an assessment within 18 months of this regulation entering into force. Products from low-risk countries will be subject to a simplified due diligence procedure. The proportion of checks is performed on operators according to the country’s risk level: 9% for high-risk countries, 3% for standard risk and 1% for low risk.
The EU authorities will have access to relevant information provided by the companies, such as geolocation coordinates, and conduct checks with the help of satellite monitoring tools and DNA analysis to check where products come from.
Penalties for non-compliance will be “dissuasive” and the maximum fine must be at least 4% of the total annual turnover in the EU of the non-compliant operator or trader.
Parliament member Christophe Hansen said: “I am relieved that European consumers can now rest assured that they will no longer be unwittingly complicit in deforestation when they eat their bar of chocolate or enjoy a well-deserved coffee. The new law is not only key in our fight against climate change and biodiversity loss, but should also break the deadlock preventing us from deepening trade relations with countries that share our environmental values and ambitions.
Companies will have 18 months to implement the new rules. Micro and small enterprises will have a longer adaptation period, as well as other specific provisions.