European Parliament votes for strong law to stop illegal timber trade

22 April 2009

Strasbourg, 22 April – This afternoon, the European Parliament voted to support an improved illegal timber law when a majority voted in favour of significant strengthening of the weak draft proposed by the European Commission last year.

The European Commission disappointingly continued to defend its weak position during the plenary debate on Tuesday evening. Milieudefensie/Friends of the Earth Netherlands calls upon the upcoming meeting of EU Agriculture ministers to adopt the strengthened illegal timber law before this summer.

Anne van Schaik, head of campaigns at Milieudefensie/Friends of the Earth Netherlands said: "The European Parliament today sends a clear signal that forest destruction and illegal logging should stop immediately. A recent European poll showed that more than 90 percent of European citizens want legislation to combat the illegal timber trade [1]. The Agriculture Council is definitely not acting with the same sense of urgency. Milieudefensie calls upon the council to adopt the strengthened illegal timber law without further delay."

The amendments of the European Parliament to the Commission's legislative proposal include a prohibition of trade in illegal timber, a provision that all companies in the European market will have to guarantee the legality of their timber products, and stronger social and environmental demands. During the plenary debate the rapporteur from the European Parliament, Caroline Lucas MEP, said that European industry is actually more progressively and is willing to take stronger action to combat illegal timber trade than the European Commission.

Illegal logging causes deforestation and forest degradation which is responsible for up to 20 percent of global CO2 emissions. One fifth of EU timber imports come from illegal or suspect sources. In a recent EU-poll in 14 countries, over 90 percent of respondents believed that it is important that a new EU law to combat illegal timber trade is introduced. An average of 56 percent do not believe that the wood products they buy in the EU are legal.




[1] EU poll results on or with press officer