As part of the effort to preserve the natural wealth of our forests, Eu environmental regulations play a crucial role in safeguarding the environmental, economic, and social benefits provided by these ecosystems. Forests, hosting the greatest terrestrial biodiversity, are essential contributors to ecosystem functions, climate protection, and the provision of clean air and water. Additionally, serving as a livelihood for nearly one-third of the global population, European environmental regulations aim to ensure the preservation of these valuable natural resources, thereby contributing to global well-being.
We face an urgent threat: deforestation and forest degradation are advancing at an alarming pace. Between 1990 and 2020, we lost over 420 million hectares of forests worldwide, equivalent to 10% of the remaining forests globally, surpassing even the extent of the European Union. This crisis, compounded by climate change, increases the likelihood of new diseases.
It is crucial to emphasize that deforestation is linked to consumption in the European Union, and efforts are being made to address this issue through regulatory and non-regulatory measures.
What does the new European environmental regulation entail?
The European environmental regulation establishes rules for the introduction and marketing of products within the European Union that contain or have been produced with raw materials such as cattle, cocoa, coffee, oil palm, rubber, soy, and wood. The aim is to reduce the Union’s contribution to global deforestation and forest degradation while simultaneously minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss. There are exceptions for products manufactured before a specific date indicated in the regulation.
Key Articles of the New regulations
It is noteworthy to highlight the following articles of EU Regulation 2023/1115.
- The Article 3 establishes a prohibition on introducing into the market, marketing, or exporting specific raw materials and products unless they meet the following conditions: a) being free from deforestation, b) being produced in accordance with the legislation of the country of production, and c) having a declaration of due diligence.
- The Article 4 stipulates that operators must exercise due diligence before introducing into the market or exporting specific products to demonstrate compliance with the conditions established in Article 3. This declaration, transmitted electronically to the competent authorities through the information system mentioned in Article 33, must include an operator’s statement regarding the completion of due diligence and the absence of significant risks or their insignificance.
Competent authorities will carry out controls within their territory to verify compliance with this regulation by operators and traders established in the Union. These controls will also be conducted to determine whether the relevant products that operators or traders have introduced, marketed, or exported comply with the provisions established in the regulation.
The sanction regime will be established by the Member States, communicated to the Commission, and ensured in its implementation. The sanctions will be proportionate and dissuasive, including fines proportional to the environmental damage and the value of affected raw materials and products. Fines for legal persons may amount to at least 4% of the total annual turnover in the Union, increasing in case of recidivism. Confiscation of products, related income, temporary exclusion from public procurement, temporary market entry ban, and prohibition of using simplified due diligence procedures are contemplated in cases of serious infringements or recidivism. Member States must notify the Commission of final judgments against legal persons and the imposed sanctions. The Commission will publish this information on its website.
Effective Date of Eu environmental regulations
This regulation will be applicable from December 30, 2024, for operators and June 2025 for micro-undertakings or small undertakings.