The legal process to introduce the new “EU Deforestation Regulation” (EUDR) is nearing completion. On 6 December 2022, the European Council and the European Parliament agreed on the text of the regulation available at:
This text was subsequently endorsed by Member States’ ambassadors on 21 December 2022. The ENVI Committee approved it on 16 January 2023. The vote in plenary by the European Parliament is scheduled for 17 April 2023. If passed by Parliament without further amendment, as widely expected, it only needs to be formally approved in Council, likely in May or June this year. The law would then be enforced 18 months later for large operators and 24 months later for SMEs.
When implemented, the law will prohibit regulated commodities and derived products from being placed on the EU market unless they can be shown to be “deforestation-free” and “forest degradation-free”, produced in accordance with applicable laws, and covered by a “due diligence statement”. It will also prohibit their export from the EU under the same conditions.
The regulation will impose mandatory due diligence rules on companies to ensure that only compliant commodities and products enter the EU market or are exported from it. The regulation will repeal the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) which already imposes mandatory due diligence rules on EU timber traders.
EUDR product coverage
Annex I to the regulation contains a Combined Nomenclature (CN) list of products to be covered by the Regulation. The regulation scope now includes “wood” alongside cattle, cocoa, coffee, oil palm, rubber, and soya. Rubber was not included in the original EC proposal.
The scope of wood products is similar but more extensive than for EUTR, including all products in Chapter 44 (“Wood”) of the EU Combined Nomenclature (CN); pulp and paper of CN Chapters 47 and 48, with the exception of bamboo-based and recovered (waste and scrap) products; printed papers in CN Chapter 49; and all furniture identified as composed wood, both seating and all other categories, in CN Chapter 94. Key additions compared to EUTR are charcoal, all “other” wood products in Chapter 44, wooden seating, and printed papers.
EUDR definitions for “deforestation” and “forest degradation”
A deforestation-free commodity or product will have to be produced on land that has not been subject to deforestation after 31 December 2020, and for which wood has been harvested without causing “forest degradation” since that date. The prohibition on products from deforested or degraded forest land will apply irrespective of the legality of the harvesting operation.
“Deforestation” is defined in the regulation as the “conversion of forest to agricultural use, whether human-induced or not”. The definition of forest is based on FAO as “land spanning more than 0.5 hectares with trees higher than 5 metres and a canopy cover of more than 10%” while excluding “land that is predominantly under agricultural or urban land use”. In the agreed text, there is no protection for “other wooded land” such as open savanna forest, although the preamble states that an evaluation of the potential to extend the scope to other wooded land should be undertaken within a year after the entry into force of the regulation.
The legislation defines forest degradation as “structural changes to forest cover, taking the form of the conversion of primary forests or naturally regenerated forests into plantation forests or into other wooded land and the conversion of primary forests into planted forests.”
A “primary forest” is a naturally regenerated forest of native tree species, without any human activities or ecological disturbances. The definition of “naturally regenerating forest” is very broad taken to mean “forest predominantly composed of trees established through natural regeneration; it includes forests for which it is not possible to distinguish whether planted or naturally regenerated; it includes forests with a mix of naturally regenerated native tree species and planted or seeded trees, and where the naturally regenerated trees are expected to constitute the major part of the growing stock at stand maturity; it includes coppice from trees originally established through natural regeneration; and it includes naturally regenerated trees of introduced species.”
Far-reaching EUDR due diligence requirements
As part of their due diligence (Article 8) , operators will be required to gather information (Article 9), to assess the risk of regulated commodities and products being derived from illegal, deforested, or degraded forest sources (Article 10), and where necessary implement mitigation measures to ensure the risk is negligible (Article 10a).
Mitigation measures will have to be adequate and proportional to effectively mitigate and manage non-compliance risk. They will include internal control and compliance management, the appointment of a management-level compliance officer, and independent risk mitigation auditing. Where operators are not able to demonstrate negligible risk, they may not place the relevant commodities or products on the EU market or export them.
Many of the due diligence requirements will be familiar to timber traders that have been working within the framework of EUTR since March 2013. However, according to the new regulation, the EUTR due diligence requirements are being “adapted and improved” through the introduction of several new and far-reaching features including:
- due diligence to be applied both by operators that “first place” product on the EU market, or that export product from the EU market, and by downstream “traders” in the EU that are not SMEs.
- the legality definition extended from those focused on harvesting and commodity trade to include laws covering labour rights, human rights protected under international law, and the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
- a due diligence statement (Article 4). Operators will produce a due diligence statement when satisfied that the commodities or products are compliant, thus assuming responsibility. In the statement, operators will confirm having carried out due diligence, and having found no or only negligible risk. Submitting a due diligence statement will be necessary before regulated commodities or products can be placed on or exported from the EU market.
- the geographic information requirement or geo-location, linking the commodities and products to the specific plot of land where they are produced (Article 9). The geolocation will have to be provided in the due diligence statement accompanying each consignment placed or exported from the market. This information requirement is mandatory for all consignments of regulated products irrespective of the level of risk. If a regulated product contains or has been made with relevant commodities produced in different “plots of land”, the geolocation of all different “plots of land” must be collected. A “plot of land” is defined in the draft Regulation as “within a single real-estate property”.
- country benchmarking (Article 27). The European Commission will use a benchmarking system to assess the risk of commodity-driven deforestation and forest degradation by country. The benchmarking system will categorise each country (or sub-national region) as “low”, “standard” and “high risk”. The EC country benchmarks will be available via the EC’s “Information System”.
- a distinct procedure for “simplified due diligence” (Article 12) to apply when sourcing from a country or region assessed as “low risk”. Under this procedure operators would be still obliged to undertake the first step of the due diligence procedure (i.e. collect information on the source of the products, including the geolocation coordinates, together documents and data demonstrating products are legally produced and deforestation-free). However they would not be obliged to undertake risk assessment and risk mitigation.
- operators to be obliged to provide their due diligence information to other operators and traders further down the EU supply chain.
- a requirement for public annual reporting on their due diligence system by operators which are not SMEs or microenterprises.
Expanded regulatory role for EU authorities in EUDR
Implementation of EUDR implies a much large role for EU regulatory authorities in the trade in wood and other regulated products. Specifically it will involve:
- a much larger enforcement role for EU customs authorities (Articles 18 and 24). Customs authorities will be empowered, for example, to verify the status of the due diligence statement covering individual import or export consignments and to block and destroy any consignment where risk analysis by EU competent authorities has established that there is a high risk of non-compliance.
- implementation of a new “information system” by the European Commission. This will enable operators to submit their due diligence statement and will be interconnected with customs authorities and accessible to competent authorities so that they may conduct their checks. Non-commercially sensitive data will also be accessible for a wider public, with the data being anonymised.
- Imposition of minimum inspection levels (article 14): each Member State will have to carry out checks of at least: 9% of relevant operators and 9% of EUDR regulated products from “high risk” countries; 5% of relevant operators from “standard risk” countries; and 1% of relevant operators trading in products from “low risk” countries.
- establishment of an “EU Observatory” to “facilitate access to information on supply chains for public entities, consumers and business, providing easy-to-understand data and information linking deforestation, forest degradation, and changes in the world’s forest cover to EU demand/trade for commodities and products”. A key objective of the EU Observatory will be to provide an “early warning system” that “can assist the competent authorities, operators, traders and other relevant stakeholders and could provide continuous monitoring and early notifications on possible deforestation or forest degradation activity”.
Limited official role for FLEGT licenses and forest certification in EUDR
The new legislation includes a provision declaring wood covered by a FLEGT license to have fulfilled the legality requirement but there is no provision for FLEGT licenses to meet the “deforestation-free” or “degradation-free” requirement. The role of forest certification in the new regulation is similar to in EUTR. For the risk assessment, operators may take into account information provided either by certification schemes or by other third-party verification systems, but this does not replace the operator’s responsibility for due diligence.
More information on EUDR
ATIBT has published a brochure of analysing and comparing EUDR with the EUTR at:
The French General Commission for Sustainable Development is organizing a webinar to present the EUDR to be held on April 20th. More details at:
A recording of a webinar by Preferred by Nature on the “New EU Deforestation Regulation – Navigating the Requirements” is available at:
A recording of a webinar by the NGO FERN on Adoption of the EU Deforestation Regulation is available at: