European Court of Auditors criticize the FLEGT action plan:

In the same week Malaysia counted a record number of illegal logging hotspots and Indonesia announced it will relax the certification requirements for downstream timber products, the European Court of Auditors published a destructive report in which it criticizes the EU action plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). When the action plan was launched by the Commission in 2003 it was a welcome initiative. However, twelve years later the results overall are meagre, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditor.

Four countries (Greece, Hungary, Romania and Spain) have not yet fully implemented the EU Timber Regulation, which was introduced to prevent illegal timber entering the EU market. As the chain of control is only as strong as its weakest link in the single market. According to the Court, the action plan did not devise an appropriate work plan with clear objectives, milestones and a dedicated budget. Also when assistance to timber-producing countries was granted this was not done in accordance with clear criteria. And the impact of the aid was diluted because of the many countries involved.

Under the Action Plan, 300 million euro was allocated to 35 countries between 2003 and 2013. Two countries, Indonesia and Ghana, made good strides towards full licensing for their timber. But in general, progress has been very slow and many countries have struggled to overcome the barriers to good governance. In the twelve years since the Commission introduced the Action Plan, no partner country has obtained fully-approved (FLEGT) licensing.

The lack of adequate planning by the Commission, together with the lack of clear funding priorities towards timber producing countries, were important factors contributing to this lack of progress. The auditors recommend that the Commission should:

• set out clear objectives and the means of achieving them.
• allocate its resources in those timber producing countries where they will have the greatest impact.
• ensure that the Timber Regulation is fully implemented in all Member States.
• introduce robust assessment and reporting procedures to keep track of the initiative.
• make use of reputable private certification bodies.

Download full report here

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