Currently, businesses buying and selling timber or timber products in the EU must ensure it is legal, complying with the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) and Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Regulation.
Businesses placing timber on the EU and European Economic Area (EEA) market for the first time (operators) must carry out due diligence, both for imported and domestically produced timber, to ensure it comes from legal sources.
Businesses trading products in the EU and EEA market that are already on the market (traders) must keep a record of who they buy it from and sell it to. Monitoring organisations can provide operators with a due diligence system and carry out due diligence for them. They must be recognised by the European Commission.
Timber imported from countries with a FLEGT licensing system under voluntary partnership agreements (VPAs) with the EU – currently only Indonesia – must be accompanied by a FLEGT licence.
This confirms products comply fully with the relevant laws of that country and means the timber is considered to comply with EU requirements so importers do not need to do any further due diligence. Timber covered by a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) permit is also considered to comply.
How processes will change
If the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020) without a deal, businesses importing and exporting timber will need to continue to demonstrate that the timber is legally sourced.
Importing timber from the EU and EEA to the UK
You would have to exercise due diligence to show you are importing legally harvested timber. This would involve:
- gathering information on timber, including its species, quantity, supplier, country of harvest and compliance with applicable legislation
- assessing the risk of timber being illegal, applying criteria set out in the regulation
- mitigating any identified risk by obtaining additional information or taking further steps to verify legality
This is what businesses currently have to do when they import timber from outside the EU, and what they have to do when placing timber produced within the UK on the UK market for the first time.
There would be no change for you if you are one of these businesses. As before, you would need to exercise due diligence to confirm the timber is legally harvested. FLEGT licences would continue to be recognised in the UK and to be verified by the Office for Product Safety and Standards.
Exporting timber from the UK to the EU and EEA
EU and EEA businesses would need to apply due diligence to imports from the UK. As a result, it is likely that, if you are a UK-based exporter, you would need to provide relevant documentation about the source and legality of your timber exports to EU and EEA-based importers to enable your customers to meet their due diligence obligations. These systems would vary business by business.
Trading timber within the UK
You would need to continue to keep a record of who you buy timber from and sell timber to.
Enforcement of the UK timber regulation
There would be no additional action for you to take at the border as a result of changes relating to the EUTR. The way it is enforced would stay the same as now and the Office for Product Safety and Standards would continue to check appropriate records are maintained by businesses.
Those established in the UK would automatically continue to be recognised by the UK and remain able to carry out their function for the purposes of the UK timber regulation. Those established outside the UK would not automatically continue to be recognised by the UK. The EU has indicated it will no longer recognise monitoring organisations based in the UK in a ‘no deal’ scenario.
Actions you can take now
- Consider any changes you may need to make to adapt to new processes and systems.
- The passport rules for travel to most countries in Europe will change if the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020) without a deal. Read the government’s guidance on Travelling to the EU with a UK passport if there’s no Brexit deal and, if relevant, ensure your employees and customers are aware of the potential changes.
- Stay up-to-date with these changes by registering for email alerts. Follow the link, add your email address, select ‘Submit’, select ‘Add subscription’ and choose ‘EU Exit’ then select ‘Submit’.