Recently, more than 9000 European wood processing companies have signed the “Stop Log Exports” petition to be submitted to the European Commission. Originally the petition focused on the export of oak logs, but was quickly expanded to include logs in general to keep the domestic economy viable. Started in France to put pressure on the government there, industry associations from Germany, Spain, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland soon joined.
In this respect, one Member of the European Parliament (MEP Engin Eroglu from Renew Europe) formulated the following question to the European Commission:
Is the Commission considering temporary restrictions on exports of timber?
Answer given by Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis on behalf of the European Commission
The Commission closely follows the supply situation and price developments for timber and is attentive to stakeholders’ concerns in this regard.
While the current situation appears to be primarily driven by supply and demand imbalances in the economic recovery phase, it is also desirable to maintain undistorted trade in timber and wood products for the EU market to function properly.
The Commission pursues this agenda in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and other international fora, and does not hesitate to challenge export restrictions by third countries affecting EU access to raw materials. For example, the EU recently has successfully challenged the Ukrainian ban on exports of unprocessed wood under the EU — Ukraine Association Agreement. The Commission also closely follows the developments with respect to a potential export ban on timber by Russia, and the European Union is raising it in the WTO(1) and bilaterally in technical discussions with the Ministry of Economic Development. The Commission is committed to monitor export restrictions that hamper the sustainable supply of raw materials and to tackle these barriers and therefore encourage stakeholders to inform on any other export restrictions adopted or under consideration by third countries.
In this context, export restrictions on the side of the EU would risk being counterproductive. Moreover, while Regulation (EU) 2015/479 on common rules for exports(2) as well as the WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994(3) allow export restrictions in a situation of critical shortage of essential products, the conditions do not seem to be met.
The Commission will continue to follow closely the wood market and stands ready to take appropriate measures, depending on how the situation evolves.
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