EU legislation on imported deforestation is a step in the right direction


EU legislation on imported deforestation is a step in the right direction

17 November 2021

Eurogroup for Animals welcomes the Commission’s proposal to reduce the risk of deforestation and forest degradation linked to EU imports. However, we call on the European Parliament and the EU Member States to push for the legislation to cover biomes other than forests, and for pig and poultry meat to be added to the list of targeted products. Failure to do so would create loopholes that could defeat the purpose of the legislation.

The Commission’s proposal imposes a list of product-specific due diligence requirements, as well as a prohibition on placing deforestation-linked commodities, such as palm oil, wood, cocoa, coffee, beef and major soy products, on the EU market. 

Announcing the proposal, Virginijus Sinkevičius, the Commissioner for Environment, said the listed products were selected after a “very careful impact assessment” to identify the products which have the largest impact on deforestation. He added that “the list can be expanded if required” and that the Commission will “monitor the situation to ensure the legislation is fit for purpose.”

Eurogroup for Animals welcomes this initiative as producers intending to export to the EU will be incentivised to switch to more sustainable production systems, less harmful to wild animals and to their habitats. Indeed, in addition to threatening their habitats, rampant deforestation is also a source of many welfare-related concerns for animals. With the increase in wildfires, wild animals - but also pets - are suffering as many do not manage to escape and for the surviving wild animals, many are displaced and will generally suffer from starvation and social disruption.

The proposal is thus interesting for animals in regions of the world where intensive animal agriculture or economic activities fuels deforestation. However, as currently crafted, the proposal could create trade distortions by leaving out animal products that are imported to the EU and derived from animals that are fed with soy cake, a high risk commodity included in the proposal. We thus call on the European Commission, the European Parliament and Member States to avoid these loopholes. 

  • Pig and poultry meat must also be included in the proposed legislation. These animals are most often fed with soy and the relevant sectors in the countries from which the EU imports such meat (Chile, Thailand, Ukraine, Brazil and the UK) can face similar risks of being linked to significant deforestation.  The review mechanism foreseen in the legislation must assess if in the future, pig and poultry meat should be included in the legislation. 
  • The geographical scope of the legislation must include other ecosystems in addition to  forests, as the  EU’s  consumption of  beef, soy products and palm oil is linked to the destruction of other  ecosystems  such  as  grasslands,  wetlands,  and savannahs.
There is a real urgency for the EU to use this legislation to address the significant impact intensive livestock farming has on the planet and on animals living on these farms and in these ecosystems. The EU must uphold its sustainable agenda and adopt such legislation before the ratification of any trade agreement with Mercosur
Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals
As the main products responsible for deforestation are beef and soy, the latter being used for animal feed, Eurogroup For Animals calls on the EU to adopt this legislation before the ratification of any trade deal with Mercosur. Mercosur countries are the largest  supplier of  beef  to  the  EU,  accounting  for 73%  of total  EU  beef  imports. If the EU-Mercosur trade deal was implemented as it stands, imports of beef would increase by between 30% and 64%. The Ambec report - the impact study commissioned by the French government - concluded that, as it stands, the EU-Mercosur agreement would generate an extra 25% of deforestation in the Amazon in the six years following its entry into force.