18 November 2021 – Shortly after the European Commission (EC) released its proposal for a Regulation covering certain commodities associated with deforestation, COCERAL, FEDIOL and FEFAC said they support the EC’s ambition in taking a leading role in the fight against deforestation, but have expressed concerns.
The trade associations argue that the set of requirements contained in the new legislation gives priority to the objective of ‘cleaning up’ EU supply chains from goods potentially associated with deforestation, rather than focusing on curbing the issue at origin.
“We are concerned that the regulation would not have the desired impact in producer countries, where deforestation remains a serious issue.” said Philippe Mitko, President of COCERAL. “The EU risks missing out on an opportunity for a global leadership role in ending deforestation.”
According to Jordi Costa, President of FEDIOL, the detailed requirements for traceability - including geo-localisation of the farm or plot of production, transmission of information and physical segregation of products - do not "reflect the reality of the market in our commodities and risk leading to the exclusion of those small players in the supply chain who cannot be singled out to mitigate the risks.”
“By implementing such restrictive measures, the Commission does not leave room for tailored approaches adjusted for instance to smallholders, good farmers in problematic areas or developing countries in their attempt to improve their production practices,” he said.
Asbjørn Børsting, President of FEFAC, aded: “If sourcing from countries that are considered high-risk gets too complicated, the supply chain will adjust to risk-avoidance. This will reduce the EU’s leverage to positively influence the situation in those countries and we can expect farmers and operators at origin to lose interest to cater to market demands that hold sustainability in high regard.”
COCERAL, FEDIOL and FEFAC stressed that deforestation can only be tackled in partnership with producing countries. "Practical solutions are needed to steer change on the ground, for which a set of different measures will be needed to support a gradual transformative process," the bodies said.