The European Timber Regulation (EUTR) combat trade in illegally logged timber and all derived products through three key obligations:
- Prohibition of the first placing on the EU market of illegally logged timber and derived products.
- Obligation of operators who place timber or timber products on the EU market for the first time to apply a due diligence system.
- Record-keeping obligations of traders who trade timber or timber products that are already placed on the EU market – in order to ensure traceability.
Who is affected?
Operators and traders
Who is an operator? Which obligations do operators have to comply with?
An operator is defined as any natural or legal person that places timber or timber products on the internal market for the first time, against payment as well as free of charge, for certain purposes:
- Timber harvested within the EU for the purpose of processing or for distribution to commercial or non-commercial consumers.
- Timber and timber products imported into the EU for the purpose of processing or for distribution to commercial or non-commercial consumers.
- Timber harvested within the EU or timber and timber products imported into the EU exclusively for their own operational use.
- Operators don’t have to register in Austria. Operator’s data is available through the customs data.
- Online traders are operators as soon as the timber is placed on the EU market.
An operator is obliged to set up and maintain a due diligence system to minimize the risk of importing illegally logged timber and derived products (Article 6 of the EUTR). As detailed in Article 6 of the EUTR operators have to apply, keep up to date and regularly evaluate their due diligence system. Operators may also use a due diligence system set up by a monitoring organization (see below).
In terms of the European Timber Regulation (EUTR) a due diligence system represents a systematic approach to legal due diligence by which an operator has to ensure that the risk of placing illegally logged timber and timber products on the EU market is negligible.
The documents on which the due diligence system is based (e.g. logging concession, transport documents) have to be checked by the market participant for plausibility (with regard to time period, quantity, type of wood and goods, etc.) and correlated with each other and then need to be evaluated for risk assessment:
- Access to information
- Risk assessment
- Risk mitigation if step 2 shows non-negligible risk of illegal timber/wood products being placed on the market.
Who is a trader? Which obligations do traders have to comply with?
Traders are persons or enterprises that sell or buy timber or timber products that have already been placed on the internal market for commercial purposes. They are obliged to keep records and information about their suppliers and buyers for at least five years to ensure the traceability of the traded products.
Which products are affected?
The products enclosed by the European Timber Regulation (EUTR) are listed in the Annex to Regulation (EU) No. 995/2010.
What are monitoring organisations and what are their tasks?
Monitoring organisations are enterprises or organisations that support operators on their behalf in setting up and maintaining their due diligence system.
According to article 8 of the EUTR a monitoring organisation shall:
- Maintain and regularly evaluate a due diligence system as set out in Article 6 and grant operators the right to use it.
- Verify the proper use of its due diligence system by such operators.
- Take appropriate action in the event of failure by an operator to properly use its due diligence system, including notification of competent authorities in the event of significant or repeated failure by the operator.
Monitoring organisations are recognized by the European Commission and checked regularly by the Competent Authorities of the Member States.
List of recognized monitoring organisations in the EU
How is the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) implemented in Austria?
In Austria, the European Timber Regulation (EUTR) is implemented by the Timber Trading Surveillance Act.
The Timber Trading Surveillance Act lays down two Competent Authorities (CAs):
- The Federal Forest Office carries out controls on timber / timber products imported from third countries and traded from other Member States as well as checks on monitoring organisations.
- District Forestry Authorities conduct checks on harvested and traded timber / timber products in Austria.
Furthermore it sets measures to be taken in case of suspicion and shortcomings detected as well as penalties to be imposed, amongst others.
Where is current information about the European Timber Regulation (EUTR) available?
As part of their due diligence system, market participants have to obtain comprehensive, current and precise information on product and country/countries of origin of a planned import.
The EU Commission continuously provides general information on its website on the EUTR, such as legal basis, associated guidelines (guidance) and a list of the Competent Authorities of the Member States. Furthermore, current information such as country overviews, briefing notes on relevant developments regarding implementation and enforcement of the EUTR and by the Member States submitted reports are published. It is therefore recommended reviewing the website constantly with regard to topicality and content.
Furthermore, relevant meeting documents as well as summaries (Summary Records) of regularly held meetings of the Commission Expert Group/Multi-Stakeholder Platform on Protecting and Restoring the World’s Forests, including the EU Timber Regulation and the FLEGT Regulation are published in the Register of Commission’s Expert Groups.