EU: Bans imports of products such as coffee and chocolate from deforested areas


“It’s about the coffee we drink in the morning, the chocolate we eat, the charcoal we use for barbecuing, the paper of our books,” said the chairman of the European Parliament’s environment committee with satisfaction.

The European Parliament and the member states of the European Union agreed yesterday to ban imports of products such as cocoa, coffee or soy in cases linked to the destruction of forests.

The decision also concerns palm oil, beef, rubber, as well as various raw materials (chocolate, leather, furniture, paper, charcoal, etc.), the EP explained in a statement.

Their introduction will be prohibited if their origin are forest areas deforested after December 2020, not only if damage was caused to “primary” forests but to all forest areas.

Importing companies will be responsible for their supply chains, required to certify traceability using crop geolocation data and satellite imagery.

“This is a first on a global scale! It’s about the coffee we drink in the morning, the chocolate we eat, the charcoal we use for barbecues, the paper of our books. It’s radical,” said Pascal Canfen (Renew, Liberals), the chairman of the EP’s environment committee, with satisfaction.

As it accounts for 16% of deforestation globally due to its imports, the EU ranks second on the list of the biggest destroyers of rainforests; behind only China, according to the non-governmental organization World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The text was proposed in November 2021 by the European Commission and was roughly adopted by the member states, but the MEPs voted in September to significantly strengthen it, enlarging the range of products it covers, especially including rubber, which was absent from the original proposal.

MEPs were also calling for the scope to be extended to other threatened vegetated ecosystems, notably the Sejandu/Cerrado savanna (Brazil/Paraguay/Bolivia), source in 2018 of around a quarter of European soybean imports. The agreement reached by the negotiators of the EP and the states, after long talks, finally provides that the extension of the measure to “other areas with vegetation” will be reviewed one year after the text comes into force.

Similarly, after two years, the Commission will study the possible extension of the scope to other products (as for example in corn, which the MEPs wanted to be included in the current text), as well as in other ecosystems that sequester large amounts of carbon dioxide and have a rich biodiversity (marshes), as well as in the financial sector, another demand strongly put forward by the MEPs.

Instead, “we have already secured a much stronger definition of what deforestation is for tariffs to cover large areas” and “guarantees to protect the rights of indigenous peoples, our best allies against deforestation,” stressed Christoph Hansen (EPP, right), EP negotiator.

Also importers must “certify their compliance with the legislation of the country of manufacture in terms of human rights” and to “guarantee that the rights of indigenous peoples are respected”.


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