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Europe wants to close its borders to products from deforestation

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MEPs voted Tuesday, September 13, with 453 votes for and 57 against, in favor of a new European rule called “zero deforestation”. It plans to ban the sale within the European Union of products that have been grown on deforested plots after December 31, 2019.

This rule creates a duty of vigilance for European companies which will have to prove, with supporting certificates, that the products they import have been grown on land already exploited before this date.

Parliament extends the list of products concerned

European consumption is responsible for 16% of global deforestation through imports, making the EU the second biggest destroyer of tropical forests behind China.

In its position, Parliament is more demanding than the Commission and the Council. Parliament has in fact extended the list of products that will be subject to this duty of care. Last November, the Commission had proposed that this obligation apply to six products: soya, beef, palm oil, wood, cocoa and coffee. Parliament adds a large number of other products to this list: pork, leather, poultry, maize, rubber, charcoal and printed paper. MEPs also voted for measures requiring financial institutions to demonstrate that “their activities do not contribute to deforestation”.

Satisfied NGOs

Parliament’s position is welcomed by NGOs. The WWF thus notes that this legislation could represent “a major turning point” in favor of the fight against deforestation and for the preservation of biodiversity. “While remaining cautious, we see that the European Parliament has understood the problem represented by deforestation and is taking a strong positionbelieves Pierre Cannet, of WWF France. It’s rare enough that it can be picked up. »

Greenpeace, for its part, regrets however that this proposal for a regulation does not aim to protect all ecosystems, such as the savannah or wetlands, but focuses on the protection of forests.

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More than a year of trialogue

The Parliament must now enter into trilogue with the Commission and the Council, in order to define a common position on the details of the text.

For example, the Council had set the deadline after which it would no longer be possible to cultivate deforested plots of land at 30 September 2020. Parliament brought this date forward to 2019. Similarly, the list of products concerned by the ban could vary. But even if some terms are to be reviewed, the principle should apply. This trialogue should last more than a year, so the new rule should come into force in the course of 2024.

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