Statement on the proposal for a regulation on deforestation-free products

Following today's publication of the Proposal for a Regulation on deforestation-free products, Copa and Cogeca support the Commission's work to fight deforestation in line with the Green Deal ambitions. It is essential for the European farming sector that the EU's political ambition on this topic is fully in line with the ambitions on fair trade and fair competition and with the current legislation.

 

It is necessary to underline that as a member of WTO, the EU has to fully respect the WTO rules and ensure an open, transparent and equitable multilateral trading system. It is in this regard that the current proposal on the benchmarking system categorizing countries is incompatible with these rules and can have serious consequences on the future trading relationships and distort the competition on both the EU and global market. Therefore, it is very important that the EU continues to work in partnership with the producer countries to support them in addressing the root causes of deforestation while also strengthening international cooperation with major consumer countries.

 

EU farmers and agri-cooperatives consider that the Regulation should be supported by concrete measures to ensure a gradual approach in its implementation and should provide farmers with access to a wide range of alternative solutions as well as with an EU plan for protein production; which would reduce their dependence on imports. This is particularly important for feed, as there is a concern that if the feed prices increase on the European market it would lead to higher imports of animal products from third countries which do not have the same rules on traceability nor proven deforestation-free production. In addition, the approach to implement segregated supply chains without a proper transition could have a significant impact not only on costs and prices but also on the availability of compliant agricultural commodities for the EU market.

 

Finally, considering forest degradation, it is important that the focus remains on the criteria implemented under the current legislation before starting to build sustainability criteria and definitions that are still under discussion at EU level.

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