Two European regulations organise the import of timber in the European Union:
- The European Timber Regulation (EUTR)
- The European regulation FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade)
These regulations aim to prevent the trade of timber cut illegally in Europe, whether it comes from the EU or elsewhere in the world.
The Federal Environmental Inspection and the FPS Finance Customs and Excise for border controls work closely to control compliance with these regulations.
The checks are mainly document based. The Federal Environmental Inspection is currently working on the development of control procedures based on the sampling and analyses carried out by scientists.
Since the entry into force of the EUTR regulation, enterprises that want to sell timber (or timber-based products) on the European market must prove that they have taken all the measures required to ensure that their timber is from a legal source.
Checks carried out in 2018
In 2018, 23 checks were carried out and resulted in 2 offence reports and 12 warnings. Three files were in order. The other files are still being processed.
Timber cut, transported, processed, purchased, or sold by countries which have signed a VPA with the Union is accompanied by a FLEGT licence, signed by the exporting country's authorities. This licence means that the timber has been farmed legally.
To date, Indonesia is the only country to have signed a VPA agreement.
The FLEGT licence is verified for each batch of timber (or timber-based products) when imported into Belgium. These checks are carried out by the customs service.
These are mainly document-based checks but may also be physical checks.
The DG Environment verifies the validity of the FLEGT licence and authorises the timber's entry into European territory.
Controls carried out in 2018
In 2018, 2,764 FLEGT authorisations concerning 52,089 tonnes of products were validated by the DG Environment's services.