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The EU Commission has proposed new legislation to tackle global deforestation, aiming to prevent the associated products from entering the EU single market.

The legislation specifically targets products such as beef, soy and palm oil (as well as wood, coffee and cocoa). Under the proposed rules, companies selling these products in the EU, will need to prove that the commodities have not caused deforestation or forest degradation, by providing the geographic coordinates of the land where the products they sell were produced.  The Commission is to develop a system to identify countries and regions at particular risk of deforestation to benchmark against these coordinates.

For Irish agriculture, this potentially means new due diligence obligations imposed on imported soy meal for animal feed and palm oil, which is used as an ingredient in a number of processed products, likely also leading to higher costs. This is also however a new element to contribute to the ongoing debate on the cohesiveness of the EU’s trade agreement with the South American trade block, Mercosur, with its sustainability agenda, as beef imported into the EU would equally be required to complete these due diligence processes relating to deforestation. 

The proposal is now to be discussed and amended by both the European Parliament and EU member states within the Council.

Alison Graham – European Affairs Executive