Stepping up EU action against deforestation

The scale of deforestation and forest degradation, in particular tropical and rain-forests, has drawn considerable attention and legitimate concerns regarding the future of the planet. The drivers of deforestation and forest degradation include illegal logging and mining, urban sprawl, land speculation, agricultural expansion, inadequate land and forest management rules, wildfires and natural diseases. Tropical oils, such as palm, but also soybeans and their derived products, have come under the spotlight of deforestation allegations.

The fight against climate change intensified over the last years. In 2014, world leaders from numerous governments, big companies and civil society endorsed a global timeline to cut natural forest loss in half by 2020, and strove to end it by 2030 under the New York Declaration on Forests. The signature of the Paris Agreement on climate is raising hopes that signatories will deliver specific actions to protect forests, reduce emissions, but also preserve biodiversity and wildlife habitats.

In 2011, the European Commission (EC) launched a study to assess the impact of EU consumption on forest loss at a global scale based on figures covering the period 1990 and 2008. The study was released in 2013 and quantified the impact of overall EU consumption on global deforestation. The Commission resumed work on this by commissioning a "Feasibility study on options to step up EU action against deforestation" which was finally resleased in March 2018.  The study assesses identified interventions against a set of criteria: feasibility, effectiveness, political acceptability, technical complexity, and administrative costs ahead of a possible decision by the Commission to consider a potential set of interventions in the form of an action plan.