Deforestation Regulation: What a group of member states is now demanding from the EU Commission

In a ministerial letter to EU Environment Commissioner Sinkevičius, Germany and other EU member states are calling to speed up the Deforestation Regulation. So far, the EU Commission has lagged behind in terms of country benchmarking and the digital information system. One member of the Commission is therefore already in favor of allowing the rules of the regulation to enter into force later.

With a ministerial letter to EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius, Germany and other member states have emphasized their demand to create the necessary basis for the EU Deforestation Regulation to enter into force. The background to the German initiative is delays by the EU Commission in the digital information system and the so-called country benchmarking – a list that assigns each country a certain risk level for deforestation. Both Germany and the co-signatories of the letter – Bulgaria, Estonia, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and Hungary – see these as key prerequisites for the implementation of the regulation.

Federal Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir is therefore appealing to the EU Commission to step up the pace on these issues. “Without their country benchmarking, small and micro forest owners and our administration will face a disproportionate amount of bureaucracy from 2025. We must prevent this,” demands Özdemir. Because without benchmarking, all countries will automatically be classified as a standard risk – including Germany. For Özdemir, it is therefore clear: “If the Commission cannot get its act together, then a shift is needed here so that the Commission can do its job.”
EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski in favor of postponement in case of doubt. 

In the meantime, the EU Commission is not revealing how far its work on developing the benchmarking has progressed. However, EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski also spoke out in favor of postponing the entry into force of the regulation by one year at the EU Agriculture Council last week. However, unlike Environment Commissioner Sinkevičius, he is not directly responsible for the Deforestation Regulation. Until now, the Commission had ruled out postponing the regulation. However, according to a Commission spokesperson, it intends to respond to the letter from Germany and the other member states shortly.

However, a longer-term postponement of the regulation for deforestation-free supply chains, as recently called for by Austria given the associated bureaucratic burden, can hardly be expected. Environment Commissioner Sinkevičius’s response to an Austrian MEP’s question states that the deforestation regulation does not fall within the area for which the Commission has announced short-term bureaucratic simplifications.