European Timber Regulation
On 3 March 2013, the European Timber Regulation ("EUTR") took effect. The EUTR aims to reduce the anti-competitive effects of products sourced from illegal logging activity. Illegal logging not only damages the environment, giving the timber industry a negative image, it also depresses the market through illegal competition, costing the sector millions each year in reduced commodity prices and lost taxes.
How does this affect you?
The EUTR obliges 'operators' who first bring timber products into the EU market to demonstrate they have assessed their suppliers via a suitable due diligence system to minimise the risk of sourcing illegal timber.
'Traders' who buy, sell and trade in timber products are required to keep information in relation to their products and their trading activities, to record movement of products through the supply chain and ensure traceability of timber sources.
The powers to enforce the EUTR rage from entry into premises, inspection and seizure of timber. Although not yet transposed into UK law, the proposed maximum penalty is two years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.
It is crucial that all businesses in or dealing with the timber sector consider their supply chain and trading practices and ensure they meet the EUTR requirements. Businesses dealing with timber from countries where illegal logging is known to take place – China, Africa, Indonesia, Myanmar, for example, should be especially vigilant.
How can we help?
Our team of specialist EU lawyers can assist and advise you on your obligations and potential liabilities in the wake of the EUTR, including:
- Which timber products are covered and whether you are at risk;
- Procedures and policies that can be put in place to minimise risk;
- Compliance auditing, to ensure your practices are sufficient to meet the EUTR requirements;
- Incorporation of EUTR requirements in contracts; and
- Internal training of staff.