Im Summary Record des Ninth Meeting of the “Multi-Stakeholder Platform on Protecting and Restoring the World’s Forests, including the EUTR/FLEGT” with a focus on the implementation of the EUTR and FLEGT Regulation haben die EU-Kommission und die zuständigen EUTR-Behörden der Mitgliedsstaaten Klarstellungen und Konsequenzen betreffend Holzimporte aus Russland und Belarus festgehalten.
Die Unterlagen dieser Sitzung sind hier verfügbar.
Entsprechende Auszüge aus dem Summary Record:
In view of the of the current situation in Ukraine1 and relevant exchanges among EUTR Competent Authorities and the Commission regarding the impact of such situation on the import of timber and timber-derived products from Russian Federation and Belarus, EUTR Competent Authorities and the Commission agreed on the following conclusions, which repeal the conclusions from 16. March 2022:
- Regarding import of timber and timber-derived products from the Russian Federation covered by sanctions
On 8 April 2022 the Council adopted Regulation (EU) 2022/576 of 8 April 2022 amending Regulation (EU) No 833/2014² about restrictive measures, prohibiting import into the European Union of goods originating within the Russian Federation. Article 3i referring to Annex XXI of the Regulation covers CN codes 44, 4705, 4804 and 9403 and therefore, almost the entire product scope of the EUTR (Annex 1). It is worth highlighting also the scope rationae temporis of these sanctions. According to Point 3 of Article 3i the prohibition does not apply to the execution until 10 July 2022 of contracts concluded before 9 April 2022, or ancillary contracts necessary for the execution of such contracts. Import of products falling under the sanction regime will be considered illegal if placed on the European market.
- Regarding import of timber and timber-derived products from Belarus covered by sanctions
On 2 March 2022, the Council adopted sanctions on timber and timber-derived products from Belarus³. As such, imports falling under the remit of Point 1 ‘Article 1o’ of Council Regulation 2022/355 cannot be placed on the market and are therefore de iure illegal. Most of all products of the EUTR product scope fall under the Council Regulation, as it prohibits the import all wood products under CN code 44 that originate in or are exported from Belarus. As for the remaining products of the EUTR product scope, the same is to be said about the due diligence requirement applying to the payment to sanctioned individuals or entities.
The scope rationae temporis and rationae materiae of these sanctions is also important to note.
In line with Point 2 of ‘Article 1o’, the prohibition does not apply to contracts concluded before 2 March 2022 as long as they are executed until 4 June 2022. In such situations, an operator may still be allowed to import provided that the risk of illegality is negligible.
In terms of product scope, there are also discrepancies between the sanctions (Annex 10 of Council Regulation) and the EUTR (Annex 1). More specifically, Annex X of the Council Regulation covers all products within the EUTR except CN Codes 47 and 48 (Pulp and Paper) and CN Codes 94 (Wooden furniture). Pending a possible future realignment of the scope of sanctions with the EUTR, the aforementioned products are excluded by the sanctions regime.
- Regarding import of timber and timber-derived products from the Russian Federation or Belarus not covered by EU sanctions
For all situations not covered by the aforementioned sanctions, operators need to carry out a full risk assessment (Article 6.1 (b) EUTR). In case non-negligible risk is identified, they need to carry out effective risk mitigation measures. In the present circumstances, it is impossible for operators – sourcing timber from Belarus and Russian Federation – to carry out full risk assessment and to effectively mitigate the non-negligible risk of acquiring illegally harvested timber.
According to the prevailing views expressed by several EUTR Competent Authorities, in the present circumstances operators cannot fully access sufficient and verifiable information. This is – inter alia – due to the lack of third party verification schemes working in the forests and inter-institutional cooperation foreseen in Article 12.1 EUTR with the national administrative. Particularly, the suspension of third party verification schemes as one of the most essential tools to mitigate risk of illegality of illegally harvested timber imported from the Russian Federation seems to be the substantial obstacle. Therefore, operators have to refrain from placing on the EU market for the first time all timber harvested in the Russian Federation and Belarus and timber products derived therefrom.
COM noted that sanctions apply to all timber coming from Russia and Belarus, including timber that comes via other third countries; operators need to know the actual origin of timber, especially if timber goes through countries which do not have the same/similar sanctions in place (i.e. possible attempts to circumvent sanctions).
COM confirmed there has already been communication with Indonesia, who will ensure that no timber or timber products originating in Russia or Belarus will reach the EU market on FLEGT licences.
1UN General Assembly demands Russian Federation withdraw all military forces from the territory of Ukraine - European External Action Service (europa.eu)
² COUNCIL REGULATION (EU) 2022/576 of 8 April 2022 amending Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine (OJ L 111/1 of 8.4.2022)
³ COUNCIL REGULATION (EU) 2022/355 of 2 March 2022 amending Regulation (EC) No 765/2006 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Belarus (OJ L 67/1 of 2.3.2022)