Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen also on my behalf.

Frans already provided the big overview on why we are here today announcing this communication, so let me pick up from that.

The issue of disappearance of global forest cover is a very complex issue as forests are linked to a great variety of issues such as people’s livelihood, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, water quality and so on.

Lately, deforestation has not been the issue in Europe where we have by activity and awareness actually reversed the trend and been able to increase our forest cover. But globally deforestation remains a serious issue, especially in the tropics.

Although this is not an issue in Europe, we are not detached from the problem. As Frans mentioned, we are linked to it for example via our consumption and trade.

It is good to remember that this is not the first time the Commission has taken action on deforestation. For example, we have worked via our so-called FLEGT programme, development policy, trade agenda and our previous deforestation strategy from 2008.

Although much has been done, it is evident that the problem is far from being solved. That is why we are here today to step up our action on two main fronts; to halt deforestation and increase the wold´s forest cover.

Protecting the world’s forests and increasing the forest cover are complementing actions. By preserving natural forests and planting new ones we are saving biodiversity and decreasing the pressure on our resources.

Sounds simple, but unfortunately there is no quick and simple fix to this highly cross cutting issue – otherwise it would had already ben solved.

Due to the complexity we here in the Commission have worked together with several colleagues in order to guarantee a much needed horizontal approach from trade to development cooperation and data.

But it is not enough that we here in the Commission take action.

In Finland one of our many forest related phrases says – roughly translated - that “the forest will echo what you shout to it”.

So, as we reinforcing our action, I would like to highlight the importance of good cooperation with the respective third countries.

Several of the deforestation related issues have links to complex socio economic issues like poverty, population growth and gaps in governance. Only with credible long-term action, we can create a sustainable change to halt deforestation and increase the global forest cover.

This is why in our Communication we are underlining the partnership approach and taking broad action to bring our partnership countries on board.

For example, we are to pay attention that our Development Cooperation does not cause deforestation and we will share our best practices with other countries when relevant.

We will also engage with the international forums to come up with common solutions.

And also we will see that our trade policy supports our messages.

As Frans mentioned, the next Commission will most likely continue to work on these topics. This Communication is a clear signal from our side that we are taking our responsibility seriously and taking action.

Thank you.