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Article

7 Feb 2022

Author:
100+ civil society organisations

EU: CSOs call on EU Parliament & Member States to strengthen draft law on deforestation-free products; incl. civil liability & due diligence requirements for financial institutions

"Civil society position statement on the proposed EU regulation on deforestation-free products", 3 Feb 2022

We, the undersigned organisations, welcome the European Commission’s proposal for a new EU regulation on deforestation-free products. This proposal represents an essential step forward in global environmental governance and a huge opportunity to minimise the EU’s impacts on people and planet in line with its commitments on climate, biodiversity and human rights. 

It is now up to the European Parliament and Member States to preserve and improve the essential elements of the Commission’s proposal and deliver a strong and ambitious law that meets the high expectations of EU citizens. To that end, we call on the European Parliament and Member States to ensure the current proposal is strengthened to include: 

  1. Strong sustainability requirements based on objective criteria...
  2. Stronger definitions for forests, deforestation and forest degradation...
  3. Requirements to respect internationally recognised human rights and ensure that products placed on or exported from the EU market are not linked to human rights violations...
  4. Equivalent protection from its commencement for other natural ecosystems...
  5. Equivalent due diligence requirements for EU-based financial institutions...
  6. The broadest possible product scope from commencement...
  7. No exceptions. ‘Simplified’ due diligence should be removed. The same due diligence obligations should apply to all operators regardless of size, trade volumes or the apparent risk level of the country or area of production.
  8. Civil liability, access to justice and criminal liability for serious non-compliance that provides victims of impacts linked to products unlawfully placed on the EU market with rights of redress against EU operators and imposes civil liability for harm caused by non-compliance. Serious non-compliance should constitute a criminal offence. All interested parties should have a right to redress, including injunctive relief.
  9. Stronger transparency requirements...
  10. Clear, objective and measurable country and sub-national benchmarking criteria that address both sustainability and legality requirements...
  11. A cut-off date well before 2020, to prevent rewarding deforestation that happened in the past

In addition, the European Parliament and Member States need to ensure that the regulation preserves and further builds on essential elements proposed by the Commission, including:

12. Mandatory and results-based supply chain due diligence obligations for operators and large traders with full traceability to the plot of land of production, based on geolocation, and full transparency of producers and upstream traders...

13. No ‘green lane’ for certification or third-party verification schemes...

14. A robust enforcement framework...

15. A maximum transition period of 12 months between the regulation entering into force and the commencement of all its provisions.

16. Engagement with producer countries...

Timeline