Complying with the European Union timber regulation for operators and traders.
The European Union Timber Regulation puts obligations on businesses that trade in timber and timber-related products.
The term ‘timber and timber products’ refers to the information set out in the annex of the regulation.
The exceptions are products which have completed their lifecycle and would otherwise be disposed of as waste, as defined in Article 3(1) of Directive 2008/98/EC
Businesses that trade in timber and timber-related products are classed as either operators or traders and have responsibilities which are detailed below.
An operator is any natural or legal person who first places timber on the EU market. As an operator you must maintain records of any traders that you supply timber to and implement a due diligence system which incorporates information gathering, risk assessment and risk mitigation activities.
A trader is any natural or legal person who sells or buys timber or timber products that have already been placed on the EU market. As a trader you must maintain and keep records for at least ten years of:
- who supplied the timber or timber product to you
- who you have supplied the timber or timber products to
Due diligence systems provide information on the supply of timber products. They are designed to minimise the possibility that products placed on the EU market contain illegally harvested timber and can be verified by Regulatory Delivery.
Operators are required to develop, maintain, evaluate and exercise due diligence which is outlined in Article 6 of the regulation and explained below:
1. Access to information
Operators shall provide the following information:
- description of the type of product and species of the wood used (trade and common name and, where applicable, the full scientific name)
- country of harvest, and where applicable, sub-national region where timber was harvested and concession of harvest
- quantity (expressed in volume, weight or number of units)
- name and address of the supplier to the operator
- name and address of the trader to whom the timber or timber products have been supplied
- documents or any information indicating compliance of those timber and timber products with the applicable legislation
2. Risk assessment
This enables operators to analyse and evaluate the risk of illegally harvested timber in their products. It takes into account the information provided in the access information section as well as relevant risk assessment criteria, including:
- assurance of compliance with applicable legislation, which may include certification or other third-party verified schemes which cover compliance with applicable legislation
- prevalence of illegal harvesting of specific tree species
- prevalence of illegal harvesting or practices in the country of harvest and/or sub-national region where the timber was harvested, including consideration of the prevalence of armed conflict
- sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council or the Council of the European Union on timber imports or exports
- complexity of the supply chain of timber and timber products
3. Mitigation of the risk identified
This concerns a set of measures and procedures that are adequate and proportionate to minimise risks and may include additional information or documents and/or requiring third-party verification. Operators can use either existing systems, set up their own systems or make use of the system from a monitoring organisation.
Monitoring organisations help operators comply with the regulation by providing them with a due diligence system. A list of approved monitoring organisations and the countries that they can operate in is available on the European Commission (EC) website.
A monitoring organisation must:
- be legally established within the EU
- have an appropriate level of expertise
- have the capacity to do the required work
- ensure that it has no conflict of interest during its work
- take appropriate action, including notifying competent authorities in the event of significant or repeated failure by the operator
The use of a monitoring organisation is optional and does not remove individual operators of their obligations, responsibilities or liabilities.
The European Union Timber Regulation EU No 995/2010 is part of UK law under the Timber and Timber Products (Placing on the Market) Regulations.
EC delegated regulation EU No 363/2012 sets out the procedural rules for the recognition and withdrawal of recognition of monitoring organisations.
EC regulation EU No 607/2012 details the rules concerning the due diligence system and the nature and frequency of checks on monitoring organisations.
The European Timber Regulation also references several other EC decisions, communications, regulations and directives as follows:
- Decision No 1600/2002/EC laying down the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme
- Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Proposal for an EU Action Plan
- Regulation (EC) No 2173/2005 on the establishment of a FLEGT licensing scheme for imports of timber into the European Community
- Regulation (EC) No 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein
- Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the council on waste
- Directive 97/7/EC on the protection of consumers in respect of distance contracts