The EU’s deforestation law is “still alive” despite calls for revisions from a number of member countries, according to the climate transition minister.

Speaking at a press conference following an Environment Council meeting in Brussels last week, Alain Maron, the bloc’s minister for climate transition and the environment, said an agreement on approving the deforestation legislation is “not far from a qualified majority” among members.

His comments were made in the context of media reports that countries such as Austria, Finland, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden are pressing for revisions before the law takes effect at the end of the year.

The regulation was put forward in April 2023 and bans the export of products linked to deforestation such as meat, cocoa beans, soya beans and palm oil.

Companies will only be allowed to sell products in the EU if the supplier of the underlying ingredients has issued a so-called due diligence statement confirming their commodities do not come from deforested land or have led to forest degradation since 31 December 2020.

The law also applies to farmers, who have engaged in protests in a number of European countries in recent weeks against burdensome environmental measures to tackle climate change as part of the EU’s Green Deal.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

Maron added the EU is committed to pushing through the deforestation law and to get a vote “back on the agenda”. However, he said it was “unpredictable” as to what will happen next and declined to provide specific examples of what revisions some member countries are after when pressed by a reporter.

“Discussions are ongoing with some member countries,” Maron said as he fielded questions, noting a final agreement has not been reached as concerns need to be “addressed”.

A European Commission spokesperson informed Just Food that as yet there has been no vote among members against the implementation of the deforestation law.

Citing a document signed by the countries calling for revisions, Reuters reported: “The agreed overall objective of tackling deforestation in third countries must not be to the detriment of the European economy, in particular the European agriculture and forestry sector.”

Speaking at the same press conference last week, Virginijus Sinkevičius, the European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, suggested EU Parliament elections to be held in June might be to blame for the delay in getting the deforestation regulation fully approved by members.

“It’s very strange for me that, you know … suddenly we find issues in the legislation which we’ve been discussing [for] two-and-a-half years,” Sinkevicius said.

In support of the new legislation put forward in April last year, the EU said an area larger than the bloc was lost to deforestation between 1990 and 2020, with member state consumption causing around 10% of losses. Deforestation is linked to rising greenhouse gas emissions, which drive climate change.

Countries, or areas of them, will be classified based on an “objective and transparent assessment” within 18 months of the regulation entering into force. Products from low-risk countries will be subject to a simplified due diligence procedure.

EU authorities will have access to relevant information provided by the companies, such as geolocation coordinates, and will conduct checks with the help of satellite monitoring tools and DNA analysis to check where products come from.

Penalties for non-compliance with new deforestation rules will be “proportionate and dissuasive” and the maximum fine must be at least 4% of the total annual turnover in the EU.