EUTR: Europe Bolsters the Global Fight to End the Illegal Timber Trade

The European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) came into effect in March 2013 and prohibits placing illegally harvested timber and wood products on the market in any EU country. The EUTR applies only to wood and wood products being placed for the first time on the EU market.

Due Diligence

Under the EUTR, EU operators, including importers, processors, and retailers which are the first point of entry for foreign wood products into the EU, are required to conduct heightened due diligence to ensure they keep illegal timber out of their supply chain. The main elements of a due diligence system under the EUTR include:

  • Access to information about the products and supply chains, including product description, quantity, wood species, country of harvest, indicators of legal compliance and name and address of buyers and suppliers
  • Risk assessment evaluating the risk of illegal timber entering into an operator’s supply chain.
  • Risk mitigation to minimize identified risks.
  • Regular evaluations of the operator’s due diligence system and performance.

The EUTR also provides for “Monitoring Organizations” which are recognized by the European Commission. These are private entities, which can provide EU operators with due diligence systems. Operators can thus either develop their own system or use one developed by a monitoring organization.

Visit the European Union Website for a list of currently recognized Monitoring Organizations.

Timber and timber products that have a valid FLEGT license or CITES permit are considered to comply with the requirements of the Regulation.

Implementation and Enforcement

The EU Member States are responsible for implementing and enforcing the EU Timber Regulation at the national level. The European Commission is responsible for monitoring its effective and uniform implementation by the Member States. Each EU Member State has a designated Competent Authority responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the EU Timber Regulation. Their tasks include carrying out checks on operators, monitoring organizations, and traders, and maintaining and communicating records of their actions. Member States must enact penalties for infringements of the EU Timber Regulation, which have to be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. The penalties for violations, however, vary between member states.

Third parties can also provide information about violations of the law to enforcement officials, called “substantiated concerns.”

Romania: Testing the EUTR

Recent evidence from Romania, published by EIA in close coordination with Romanian activists, shows that the EUTR may miss an important source of potentially illegal timber in its lack of provision for how to address illegal logging within European Member States, themselves. Learn more about EIA’s investigations of illegal logging in Romania and how illegal wood products are circulating freely within EU borders.