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. A summary explaining the licensing system for imports of timber to the EU is available here in all EU languages.
The internal EU legal framework for this scheme is Council Regulation (EC) No 2173/2005 of 20 December 2005 (the FLEGT Regulation) and Commission Implementing Regulation (EC) No 1024/2008 of 17 October 2008, 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 include commitments and action from both parties to halt trade in illegal timber, notably with a license scheme at the partner country and the issuance of FLEGT licences that certify the legality of timber exported to the EU. To issue FLEGT licences, a VPA partner country must implement a timber legality assurance system (TLAS) and other measures specified in the VPA. When fully operational a TLAS is both robust and credible, as it includes effective supply chain controls, mechanisms for verifying compliance and is subject to independent audits. A VPA TLAS is built around a practical definition of legality that has been agreed through participatory processes involving stakeholders from government, the private sector and civil society. The VPA also promotes better enforcement of forest law and an inclusive approach involving civil society and the private sector.
VPA Unpacked contains all the possible information for readers who are new to FLEGT and VPAs and for those who are already familiar with these concepts. VPA Unpacked is organised in six chapters, which describe the different aspects of VPAs in increasing levels of detail. You can easily navigate inside the document, using the hyperlinks from the Table of Contents or within the individual chapters.
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.
Signature of EU-Ghana FLEGT
Voluntary Partnership Agreement
The EU has concluded negotiations and initialled a VPA with Honduras and Guyana.
Negotiations are ongoing with Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Laos, Malaysia and Thailand.
Indonesia is the first country in the world that started issuing FLEGT Licences on 15 November 2016. FLEGT Licences are issued by Licencing Authorities (Licensing Authorities in Indonesia, which are independent organisations registered with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of the provider country.
All the essential information about FLEGT-licenced timber can be found in Chapter “188.8.131.52. FLEGT licensing" of VPA Unpacked.
DG Environment is leading on the implementation of the FLEGT AP, including the negotiation and implementation of FLEGT VPAs with South-East Asian countries. VPAs have been signed with Indonesia and Vietnam, and negotiations are ongoing with Laos and Thailand. VPA negotiations with Malaysia have been put on hold.
Other useful information:
A Fitness Check of the EUTR and the FLEGT Regulation was performed in 2021 to evaluate the implementation and functioning of these two instruments and to assess whether they were fit for purpose to halt illegal logging and related trade.
Commission and Member States’ Annual Synthesis Reports on the implementation of the FLEGT licensing scheme: FLEGT Regulation Reports.
Updated Customs and FLEGT Implementation Guidance is now available, to support Customs and FLEGT Competent Authorities in effectively carrying out their tasks in accordance with the FLEGT legislation.
Regulation (EU) 2019/1010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2019 on the alignment of reporting obligations in the field of legislation related to the environment, and amending Regulations (EC) No 166/2006 and (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Directives 2002/49/EC, 2004/35/EC, 2007/2/EC, 2009/147/EC and 2010/63/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Regulations (EC) No 338/97 and (EC) No 2173/2005, and Council Directive 86/278/EEC (for the FLEGT Regulation, please refer to Article 9)