FERN, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and WWF acknowledge the
Council Conclusions, and consider that the Plan now needs to be
backed by concrete action and sustained political commitment. They
are calling for:
- the European Commission to present legislation that makes it
illegal to import or sell any illegally-sourced timber or wood
- the development of FLEGT partnership agreements (2) with
producer countries, in conjunction with a wide consultation of NGOs
and local communities, based on a Regulation setting up a voluntary
licensing scheme for identifying legal timber
- member states to crack down on the illegal timber trade using
existing legislation on money laundering, public procurement and
- the Commission to take the initiative on stopping illegal
logging in accession and candidate countries.
"The EU can do so much to stop the misery caused by illegal
logging, but without the legislation to make it a crime to trade in
these illegal products, the whole Action Plan is half-hearted,"
said Chantal Marijnissen of FERN. "Let's not forget the key test
for this Plan is if it can stop the vast quantities of illegal
timber entering the EU."
"As long as no punitive action is taken by the EU to stop the
illegal trade in timber, this multi-million-euro activity will
continue to fuel conflict and corruption, harming development and
posing a threat to the environment and global peace. The time for
Europe to act has come," said Sebastien Risso of Greenpeace. "The
European Commission must get back to the EU Council with
legislation that makes this illegal activity a crime. The EU ought
to enforce the international commitments it made during the G8
Summit and the CBD Conference (3)."
Beatrix Richards of WWF said, "Legislation aside, the actions
the Commission propose, supported by the Council, are a good first
step. However we need a joined up EU in order to implement these
proposals successfully. It is a little depressing to think that
while on the one hand the Commission and Council support the FLEGT
action plan, they are on the other, slowly unpicking what could be
a key economic driver to secure legality, i.e. the Public
"While the European Council is endorsing the European
Commission's Action Plan on illegal logging, the Africa Forest Law
Enforcement and Governance (AFLEG) (4) process is taking place in
Cameroon to address forest crime in the region. If the EU is unable
to take action to exclude illegal products from European markets,
the AFLEG won't be able to stop the industrial-scale logging
destroying the remaining African Forest," said Frederic Castell of
Friends of the Earth-France.
"We expect the EU to enter into negotiations of the FLEGT
partnership agreements with the exporting countries," added Filip
Verbelen of Greenpeace. "However, and this is crucial, these
negotiations have to be driven from a development and environmental
perspective, and not hampered by trade considerations."
The European Commission will report back to the Council on its
implementation of the Action Plan and propose legislation to the
Council by mid-2004. We expect the Commission to consult NGOs fully
on all aspects of its work during the next six months or prior to
reporting back to the Council.
Notes: (1)European Commission Communication to the Council and the European Parliament on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT): Proposal for an Action Plan (COM(03)0251); Council Meeting – Agriculture and Fisheries – Brussels, 13 October 2003: Council Conclusions on FLEGT Action Plan(2) European Commission Communication to the Council and the European Parliament on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT): Proposal for an Action Plan (COM(03)0251) p 11-14(3) G8 Summits: Birmingham 1998 and Okinawa 2000; Convention on Biological Diversity COP6 The Hague: Forest Biological Diversity (4) While the EU Council is adopting its conclusions on the FLEGT Action Plan today, EU member states and European Commission officials are meeting in Yaounde, Cameroon for a ministerial conference (AFLEG) to promote law enforcement and governance in the forest sector, which is plagued by massive illegal logging and rampant corruption.