The regulation is designed to combat the trade in and harvesting of illegal timber.
From 3rd March 2013, the EUTR places a legal obligation on all those placing timber or timber products on the European market for the first time (known as operators) to conduct due diligence (DD) on these products to minimise the risk that they are from illegal sources. Article 6 of the EUTR clearly outlines the basic principles of due diligence to be;
First placers are liable to criminal prosecution if found to have placed or be placing illegal timber on the market. Penalties will be proportionate to the crime and may include imprisonment.
Companies that are not placing products on the EU Market for the first time (known as Traders) must ensure they have systems in place to be able to trace timber purchases to sales. Such systems will allow enforcement agencies to establish the source of entry into the EU of any illegal timber found down the supply chain and therefore instigate any criminal proceedings against the relevant operator. Traders are obliged to keep records for 5 years of their suppliers and buyers. Penalties for ‘traders’ will be on the basis of non- compliance with this obligation and have not been decided yet.
Proof of due diligence is compulsory on all timber products (chapter 44- including bamboo and rattan, if unwoven, e.g. flooring, worktops etc) , pulp and paper (chapters 47 and 48) and wooden furniture and prefabricated buildings (chapter 9403 and 9406 respectively) imported into the EU. Recycled timber is excluded from the scope of this regulation; however, documentation should be in place to support this.
Only FLEGT and CITES licensed timber will be recognised as legal timber under EUTR, everything else will have to have gone through a system of Due Diligence.
Certified products (FSC, PEFC, etc) should, of course, be regarded as lower risk. The key area for concern for certified timber is the increase, in recent years of the number of fraudulent claims under certification schemes and therefore due diligence for such products should focus on verifying the authenticity of claims. The same is true for the newer “verified legal” timber products that are now available on the market, such as Smartwood and OLB.
The European Commission realise that the requirements of due diligence for SME’s in particular may be difficult to achieve, hence within the EUTR there is provision for Operators to be supported in their due diligence by a Monitoring Organisation (MO).
MO’s will be required to meet strict standards to ensure that the due diligence systems they develop are robust, that Operators who are using them are doing so properly and that action is undertaken against those operators who misuse the due diligence system.
At the current time, there have been no MO's approved, and the TTF has decided, for now, not to become an MO.
With one eye on becoming an MO, The Timber Trade Federation, in 2010, introduced new environmental criteria into the Code of Conduct to help members prepare for the EU Timber Regulation. This new criteria committed all members to implement an Environmental Due Diligence System from 2010 onwards, the TTF's Responsible Purchasing Policy (RPP) or equivalent.
The TTF supports members to meet this code of conduct by making available a free due diligence system and associated tools – the RPP (Responsible Purchasing Policy) that members can use in their businesses to meet these requirements. This due diligence system has been continuously improved by the TTF along with input from various members who have in the past voluntarily implemented and tested the system. The lessons learnt over the past 7 years, mean that in its current form, completion of the RPP, if used correctly will ensure TTF Members are compliant with the EUTR.
By the end of 2011, two members did not meet the code of conduct and were removed from membership.
The EU Timber Regulation became applicable across the EU on March 3rd 2013.
Over the past few months, the European Commission and national Competent Authorities put into place the final policy details to ensure as much clarity as is possible in the interpretation and implementation of the regulation, such as how organisations can apply to become MO’s, the checks that will be undertaken on them by Competent Authorities (those organisations enforcing the regulation such as DEFRA in the UK) as well as further details on due diligence systems looks like.
Businesses should now be ready for this legislation having made the neccessary adaptations (if necessary) to management systems, especially from a purchasing point of view. given lead times, many companies have already made the changes, in particular TTF members, given timber products purchased before the 3rd March 2013 deadline will be caught by the legislation because they may be “placed on the market” after this date.
The EUTR introduction page on the TTF website provides links to a number of other information sources on the EUTR. Specifically the following websites are useful for further information;