EU lawmakers divided over calls to delay deforestation law

The deforestation law will begin December 30
calendar icon 28 June 2024
clock icon 2 minute read

European Union lawmakers are split over whether to delay the bloc's upcoming ban on imports of goods linked to deforestation, adding pressure on Ursula von der Leyen as she seeks their backing for a second term as the European Commission's president, reported Reuters.

The EU's deforestation law will, from Dec. 30, require companies and traders placing beef, coffee, palm oil and other products on the EU market to prove their supply chains do not contribute to the destruction of forests.

In a statement published on Thursday, EU lawmaker Peter Liese - environment spokesperson for the European People's Party (EPP) lawmaker group, which is von der Leyen's political group - urged Brussels to delay and scale back the law, which he called a "bureaucratic monster".

"Many small farmers around the world and even small forest owners in the European Union cannot work with the text," Liese said.

EU leaders are expected to endorse von der Leyen for a second term as the Commission's president on Thursday.

But she still needs majority support from the European Parliament. That will require backing not only from the EPP, but also from lawmakers pressuring her not to weaken environment policies.

A source in the Socialists & Democrats (S&D), the Parliament's second-biggest lawmaker group behind the EPP, said the group was "totally opposed" to delaying the deforestation law.

"It is a clear no-go for S&D. The Commission has an obligation to implement it," the source said.

Green lawmakers - whose support von der Leyen may also need to win a comfortable majority - also opposea delay.

The European Parliament approved the deforestation policy with a large majority last year - 552 votes in favour versus 44 against and 43 abstentions.

But the law has come under fire from countries including the US and palm oil producers Malaysia and Indonesia.

EU climate envoy Tony Agotha said, in general, the bloc should support countries concerned about how EU green policies affect their economies. The deforestation law "was done for a reason", he added.

"The EU is a big driver - 10% of global deforestation, through our consumption of coffee, palm oil, rubber, soy, timber, beef, you name it. That's a problem, we no longer wanted to be that," Agotha told an event hosted by the think-tank Bruegel on Thursday.

A spokesperson for the European Commission said it was working to ensure the conditions are met for a smooth implementation of the policy.

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