When members of the European parliament gathered for the plenary session in September, the agenda was packed with negotiations about climate and energy proposals. The forest played a major role in many of these. One of the votes concerned the Commission’s legislative proposal for a regulation on deforestation, which the parliament adopted. The network of politicians; Europaforum Northern Sweden, which North Sweden European Office is part of, supports the EU:s ambition to reduce the global deforestation but an increased administrative burden connected to trade with wood and wooden products is a cause for concern.
When members of the European parliament gathered for the plenary session in Strasbourg the 12th-15th September, the agenda was full of debates and votes about climate- and energy legislative proposals. In many of these proposals, the forest played an important role in different ways. For instance; The Renewable energy directive, EU:s Forest strategy and the Deforestation regulation, are all crucial for the future of northern Sweden.
On the 13th of September the European parliament accepted the European Commission’s proposal regarding a new Deforestation regulation. With this proposal, the European Commission wants to minimize the consumption of products from supply chains that are associated with deforestation or the destruction of forests. Among those products is wood, soy, palm oil and beef products. With this the commission also want to increase demand for and trade with legal and “deforestation free” raw materials and products in the EU. The proposal is mainly aimed at systems of control and oversight and aims to guarantee that no deforestation has occurred on the ground where the product is produced after 2020. This applies to countries outside the EU and all member states.
Globally, deforestation is commonly associated with a change in land usage when the forest is turned into agricultural land. Wood and wood products rarely have a connection to global deforestation. The increase of administrative burden that this proposal in its current form would entail, risks slowing the growth in the bioeconomy in northern Sweden. The Swedish government, as well as the forest industry, has tried to influence the regulation to protect the Swedish forestry.
North Swedens advocacy work
Since the proposal was presented the 17th of November 2021 North Sweden, together with the network of politicians from a local and regional level in the four northernmost regions of Sweden; Europaforum Northern Sweden has driven active advocacy work in order for the proposal to take the conditions of northern Sweden into account. The network has worked together, to the very end, with proposed amendments and have tried to affect the details of the proposal in what the definition of “deforestation” is, and what should be considered sustainable forestry.
The world needs viable forests
Most people can agree that the forest is essential, both for biodiversity and the climate, and that the world is in need of more trees and viable forests. Therefore, Europaforum Northern Sweden welcomes initiatives that aims to prevent that goods that are consumed in the EU, or passes through the EU, contains products that in non-EU states has contributed to deforestation. The network considers the EU-commissions proposal to be an important part in the work against deforestation.
Some of Europaforum Northern Sweden positions regarding the Deforestation regulation in short:
- Deforestation is globally connected to a change of land use, when forest land is turned into agricultural land, for instance in order to grow coffee and soy, and not with cutting down timber. Wood and wood products are rarely associated with global deforestation. Therefore, it is not logical that trade in such different product groups as wood and food would fit within the same regulations.
- The proposal would mean an extensive system of control and oversight and the prices of the products affected would most likely rise. Trade with wood products should not be made more difficult when we all need to replace fossil materials with renewable ones. In a changed security situation and feared global food shortages, it is also problematic to increase administration and costs for importing food to the internal market
- Proposals in EU:s growth strategy the Green Deal and Fit for 55, must not risk leading to food shortages or increased poverty in non-EU states.
- On the markets where the risk of deforestation is high, the EU should work towards reforestation using forestry.
- Import of wood products and trade with wood products within the EU is already regulated by the Timber regulation, which prohibits the selling of wood from illegally logged forest, which should continue to apply.
- The regulation should clarify and clearly mark the difference between deforestation and logging, where logging is a part of active forestry with replanting. Detailed regulation for how sustainable forestry is conducted should be avoided and the terminology needs to be clear.
What’s to come next
The proposal still hasn’t gone through all the necessary decision-making processes. An agreement in the last instance, the trilogues, on the Deforestation regulation may not be until 2023. Until then, Europaforum Northern Sweden will keep working on amendments to make the proposal more implementable.
Other important votes connected to the forest was also on the agenda the same week: the Renewable Energy Directive and EU:s Forest strategy. They also got adopted in the European Parliament during September’s plenary session.
Read Europaforum Northern Sweden’s stance on the Deforestation regulation here.
Read more about the vote for the Deforestation regulation in the European parliament here.
Read the Swedish Government Office PM about the Deforestation regulation here.
Find the text adopted by the European Parliament here.
Read about the negotiations on the Renewable Energy Directive here.