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19 Apr 2023

Human Rights Watch

EU: Major Step For ‘Deforestation-Free’ Trade

The European Union is adopting an important new law to require EU-based companies to ensure that their imports and exports are “deforestation-free” and uphold human rights, Human Rights Watch said today. The law establishes the legal requirements for European businesses regarding biodiversity loss and human rights abuses embedded in their international supply chains.

On April 19, 2023, The European Parliament voted for the European Union Deforestation-Free Products Regulation (EUDR); the Council of the European Union is expected to also approve it in late April, ushering its entry into force shortly after...

The Deforestation-Free Products Regulation puts the onus on companies registered in EU member states to ensure that the wood, palm oil, soy, coffee, cocoa, rubber, and cattle they import or export have not been produced on land that was deforested after December 31, 2020. The law requires companies to trace the commodities back to the plot of land where they were produced, or, in the case of cattle, the particular locations where the animals were raised...

Risk benchmarking will be a cornerstone of the regulation’s successful implementation. Within 18 months after it enters into force, the European Commission will announce which producer countries – including EU member states – are deemed low, medium, or high risk based on their rate of deforestation and forest degradation, and the existence, compliance with, and effective enforcement of laws protecting human rights, the rights of Indigenous peoples, local communities, and other customary tenure rights holders, among other criteria.

Products from countries determined to be “high risk” will face tougher scrutiny by EU customs authorities and require European companies to conduct greater in-depth due diligence when sourcing from those locations.

The Commission will need to resist political pressure from trading partners and the EU’s own members to ensure the benchmarking accurately reflects conditions on the ground and contributes to effective enforcement of the regulation, Human Rights Watch said...