A key element of the FLEGT Action Plan is a voluntary scheme to ensure that only legally harvested timber is imported into the EU from countries agreeing to take part in this scheme. The internal EU legal framework for this scheme is a Regulation adopted in December 2005, and a 2008 Implementing Regulation, allowing for the control of the entry of timber to the EU from countries entering into bilateral FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA) with the EU. Once agreed, the VPAs will include commitments and action from both parties to halt trade in illegal timber, notably with a license scheme to verify the legality of timber exported to the EU. The agreements also promote better enforcement of forest law and promote an inclusive approach involving civil society and the private sector.
The European Commission has been given a mandate from the Council of Ministers of the EU to conduct negotiations in view of concluding such FLEGT VPAs. While the European Commission is leading in these negotiations, EU Member States play a key role in supporting the negotiations and implementation. The first VPA to be signed was with Ghana, followed by the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Indonesia, the Central African Republic and Liberia. Negotiations are ongoing with Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Guyana, Honduras, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
A series of Briefing Notes have been prepared with more information on the FLEGT VPA approach, which have been used to brief potential partners and clarify the parameters and framework the EU has adopted for FLEGT negotiations.
Signature of EU-Ghana FLEGT
Voluntary Partnership Agreement