The European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee on Tuesday called for the proposal to limit imports into the EU market that contribute to deforestation and forest degradation to be extended to more sectors, including pigs and sheep.
With 60 votes in favor, 2 against and 13 abstentions, MEPs requested that seven more products be added to the list proposed by the European Commission (wood, coffee, meat, soy, cocoa and palm oil): pigs, sheep, poultry, corn, rubber, charcoal and printed paper products, as well as derived products.
In a further step, MEPs have urged that the standard should oblige companies to verify that such goods have been produced without violating international human rights and indigenous rights standards, and that financial institutions should also be subject to similar requirements to ensure that they do not contribute to deforestation.
The EU executive’s proposal, which is expected to be voted in Parliament in September to begin negotiations with the Member States, would oblige companies to guarantee that products marketed in the EU have not been produced in deforested areas or contributed to this process.
In addition, the European Parliament’s Environment Committee has requested that the European Commission assess, no later than two years after the rule enters into force, whether it should be extended to other goods such as sugar cane, ethanol and mining products.
MEPs have demanded that, in addition to protecting forests, the standard should also cover other natural ecosystems such as grasslands and wetlands, one year after its entry into force.
The EU-27 set out their position on the reform at the end of June and agreed to establish an evaluation system whereby third countries are assigned a level of risk related to deforestation, divided into low, standard or high.
This idea has also been advocated by the European Parliament’s Environment Committee and would be established on the basis of an assessment carried out by the European Commission.
The environmental organizations CECU, Ecologists in Action, Greenpeace, Mighty Earth and SEO BirdLife have expressed their satisfaction with the level of ambition proposed by MEPs in a vote that they have called a «great step forward». However, they consider that it is still necessary that the regulation includes from the beginning of its application to other natural ecosystems such as grasslands, peatlands and wetlands, among other necessary measures for this law to be «really effective».
Along the same lines, Anke Schulmeister-Oldenhove, head of forestry policy at WWF’s European Policy Office, considers that the vote sends a «message of hope» that it is possible to achieve a law that can guarantee that European imports do not contribute to aggravating global deforestation.
«There is still work to be done to improve this proposal and make it more ambitious, but we are moving in the right direction,» she said.