The steps in the FLEGT process
In May 2003 the European Commission released the FLEGT Action Plan. In the Action Plan the Commission identified some "Next Steps" on which it sought endorsement by both the Council and the European Parliament.
In October 2003 the EU Agricultural Council adopted a set of Council Conclusions which endorse the FLEGT Action Plan. The Council furthermore asked the Commission to start drafting a Regulation setting up a voluntary licensing scheme on timber. Furthermore, the Council requested the Commission to review options for, and the feasibility of, further legislation to control imports of illegally harvested timber, and present its findings to the Council by mid-2004.
In November 2003 the EU Parliamentary Industry and Trade Committee (ITRE) delivered its opinion on the FLEGT Action Plan. It welcomed the Action Plan and requested the Commission to draft legislation that will prohibit the importing and marketing of all illegally-sourced forest products, and to report back to both the Council and the European Parliament by June 2004.
In July 2004 the European Commission presented a proposal for an EU Regulation that would establish a voluntary licensing scheme on timber. The proposed licensing scheme is to be implemented on a voluntary basis through partnership agreements with wood-producing countries and regions that agree to co-operate with the EU on this matter.
In December 2005 the European Commission adopted a regulation (EC 2173/2005) permitting the establishment of Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) licensing system for imports of timber into the European Community on December 20, 2005. The licensing system will be implemented through Voluntary Partnership Agreements with timber producing countries.
In December 2006, the European Commission published a consultation document exploring the different options with regards to legislation to outlaw the import of illegal timber and wood products into the EU. The consultation closed in March 2007 and an impact assessment on the various legislative options as well as the results of the consultation process was published in early 2008, nearly four years after the initial deadline.
The EU Timber Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 of European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market) published in 2010, will come into force on 3rd March 2013. It will prohibit the placing of illegal timber and wood products on the EU market and requires operators to practice due diligence to minimise risk. It will also facilitate the tracking of wood products within the EU back to their first placing on the EU market
In 2012, Voluntary Partnership Agreements have been signed by 6 countries, Ghana, Republic of Congo (RoC), Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Indonesia and Liberia. Two, Ghana and Cameroon, have been ratified. A further 4 are currently being negotiated with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon, Malaysia and Vietnam. Other countries which have expressed an interest in the FLEGT VPA process are Cambodia, Colombia, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Guyana, Ivory Coast, laos, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone and the Solomon Islands.
The continued support and active involvement of the EU Member States in the implementation of the FLEGT Action Plan is crucial.