Due to the bark beetle outbreak, the Austrian legislator is proposing to amend the Austrian Forest Act proposing a provision for a temporary obligation for the Austrian sawmill industry to buy damaged wood in surrounding areas.
The amendment to the Austrian Forest Act does not contain any specifications regarding the terms of delivery (delivery periods, quality, quantity, price, etc.) under which the purchase obligation exists; thus, forest owners might dictate the terms of delivery at their discretion.
Although the economic and environmental implications caused by forest disturbances (such as bark beetles) can not be disregarded, this proposal appears to be a breach of the European internal market law and doesn’t contain any elements that might imply a derogation of the European internal market rules (indeed derogations are possible if the internal market restrictions are not going to be used for economic gain or to protect the national internal market. At a first glance the Austrian law proposal does not seem justified. )
Representatives of the European Forestry Value chain acknowledged the Austrian legislator decision to amend the current Austrian Forest Act and stressed in a joint statement that this provision, if adopted and implemented, may represent a breach of the European Internal market rules, in particular Article 34,35 TFEU, thus potentially creating a market distortion and hampering the realisation of a fully integrated Single Market.
Compliance with the Single Market rules is a key driver of growth and the main engine for economic recovery. In these challenging times a well-functioning Internal Market is more important than ever.
Representatives of the European Forestry Value chain are willing to engage both at European and at national level to identify the most suitable solutions that will be beneficial for the entire forest industry value chain and provide credible support to forest owners, for instance by financially supporting them in replanting the damaged forest area.
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