On 6 December 2022, the European Parliament and the Council have reached an agreement on an EU Regulation on deforestation-free supply chains. The new regulation is part of the European plan of action to tackle deforestation and forest degradation, “Stepping up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World’s Forests” and based on the European Commission Proposal of 17 November 2022 for a “Regulation on deforestation-free products.” 

The EU is the second largest contributor to deforestation after China and is responsible for about 10% of deforestation and forest degradation worldwide.[2] The EU demand for forest risk products drives agricultural expansion, which is the primary cause of global deforestation and biodiversity loss.[3] According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), agricultural expansion is responsible for nearly 90% of global deforestation, and deforestation is responsible for about 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions.[4] That is why the European Union is paving the way for more sustainability, biodiversity and climate protection in this area.

The new Regulation will guarantee that the six commodities - cattle, wood, palm oil, soy, cocoa, and coffee and their derivate products placed on the EU market or exported from the EU will no longer contribute to deforestation and forest degradation. It aims to tackle both legal and illegal deforestation and minimize the EU's impact on forests worldwide by establishing a new standard for the sale of certain forest-sensitive goods in the EU and their export from the EU.

 The new regulation sets a mandatory due diligence regime combined with a benchmarking system that requires affected companies and operators to submit a due diligence statement. The operators will be required to ensure that products are both deforestation-free (produced on land that has neither been deforested after the 31 December 2020 cut-off date nor has primary and naturally growing forests been converted into plantations) and legal (in compliance with all applicable and relevant laws in force in the country of production).

It asks operators to trace their products through their supply chains back to their point of origin and to collect precise geographical information on the land where the commodities that they source have been grown so that these commodities can be checked for compliance. Member States need to make sure that not complying with the rules leads to effective and dissuasive penalties.

This new regulation has been welcomed as one of the most ambitious measures to halt global deforestation and forest degradation in commodity supply chains. In particular, reducing forest degradation and deforestation is an essential part of the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss, as commodity production is a significant driver of deforestation in many parts of the world.

The new Regulation is expected to be formally adopted in 2023. Once the Regulation is in force, large companies and operators will have 18 months to implement the new rules, and micro and small companies will have 24 months and other specific provisions.