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The FLEGT process

In May 2003 the European Commission presented an Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT), which was endorsed in October 2003. This marked the beginning of a long process by which the EU aims to develop and implement measures to address illegal logging and related trade.

The measures proposed in the FLEGT Action Plan focus on seven broad areas:

  1. Support to timber exporting countries, to find solutions to the illegal logging problem.
  2. Activities to promote trade in legal timber, which includes negotiation of voluntary partnership agreements (VPAs) between the EU and timber-exporting countries.
  3. Promoting public procurement policies, to guide contracting authorities on how specify legal and sustainable timber in their procurement contracts.
  4. Support for private sector initiatives, to encourage the delivery of good practice in the forest sector, including the use of voluntary codes of conduct for private companies to source legal timber.
  5. Safeguards for financing and investment, to encourage responsible financial policy by banks and financial institutions investing in the forest sector.
  6. Use of existing legislative instruments or adoption of new legislation to support the Action Plan, e.g. the FLEGT Regulation and the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR).
  7. Addressing the problem of conflict timber, to support improved governance in wood-producing countries and voluntary partnerships between the EU and wood-producing countries, so that only legally sourced timber enters the EU.T
The FLEGT Action Plan also puts emphasis on demand-side measures to reduce consumption of illegally-harvested timber.

The EU FLEGT Regulation, which permits the establishment of a voluntary licensing system for timber and wood product imports, was adopted in December 2005. The Regulation needs to be in force in each member state before any licensed timber enters the EU. The application of the licensing system is being facilitated in producer countries through the negotiation of voluntary partnership agreements (VPAs). By the end of 2011, six VPAs had been signed and four were under negotiation. Eleven other countries had indicated an interest in joining the FLEGT VPA process. No FLEGT-licensed timber is currently available.

Read more about the steps in the FLEGT process.

A second EU regulation, passed in October 2010 and coming into force on 3 March 2013, prohibits illegally harvested and produced timber products from the EU market. It requires that operators have due diligence systems in place to minimise the risk of their trading in illegal timber, or face penalties and sanctions. It also has provisions to facilitate traceability of wood products within the EU back to their first placing on the EU market. It covers most wood products, including pulp and paper.

We proactively support the FLEGT Action Plan and call on EU governments to ensure the effective implementation of its key commitments.

Read more about FLEGT gaps and asks.

Tree trunks being processed at timber plant