STRASBURG, GERMANY -- The European Union has joined the United States in passing legislation barring the import and sale of illegally harvested timber.
The Euoropean Partlimaent voted 644-25 on July 7 to ban illegal timber or products and to establish penalties for those that violate the law. It has been estimated that as much 20 percent of wood and products imported into the 27 EU nations are from illegally harvested sources.
The Parliament's vote must be formally approved by the European Council. If the Council passes it, the ban would go into effect in two years.
Under the rule, EU-member nations will be responsible for applying sanctions to operators who break the rules. The legislation sets out guidelines for imposing fines: the environmental damage caused, the value of the timber and lost tax revenue can all be taken into consideration. EU countries can also impose criminal-law penalties on unscrupulous dealers. To ensure traceability, each operator along the supply chain will need to declare from whom they bought timber and to whom they sold it.The European legislation, comes two years after the United States amended the Lacey Act to include bans on illegally imported wood and wood products.
Satu Hassi (Greens/EFA, FI), who took over parliamentary responsibility for this legislation from former MEP Caroline Lucas, said, "EU legislation to ban the sale of illegally-sourced timber represents a major international breakthrough, from the forests around the world that are ravaged by illegal logging to the EU market where timber and wood products are sold. The tough rules agreed would not have been possible without the strong backing of the European Parliament."Read the European Union Parliament's press release.