The European Commission will table a legislative proposal and other measures this year to avoid the placing of products associated with deforestation on the EU market, the executive vice president of the European Commission Valdis Dombrovskis has said.

He said the Commission shares the concerns about deforestation in the Amazon in response to questions from two French MEPs who asked if the Commission would take “swift action” with regard to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest for the purposes of livestock farming and soy.

Sustainable management

“The Commission shares the concerns over deforestation in the Amazon and stresses the urgent need for countries in the region to redouble efforts to fight illegal deforestation and ensure a sustainable management of forests.

“Evidence suggests that the deforestation rate in Brazil can be decoupled from agricultural production if environment and land use legislation is properly enforced.

“Over the next years, the Commission aims to scale up the union’s international engagement on forests.

“In 2021, it will table a legislative proposal and other measures to avoid or minimise the placing of products associated with deforestation or forest degradation on the EU market,” Dombrovskis said.

Mercosur deal

The Commission aims to step up engagement with Mercosur partners to find lasting solutions for the Amazon region as a critical element on the path to ratify the EU-Mercosur agreement, he said.

“The agreement will not affect most EU agro-food imports from Mercosur countries, including soy, as these already have zero import duties.

"The amount of beef that can enter the EU at reduced tariffs represents less than 1% of Brazilian production; most Brazilian beef is consumed domestically,” he said.

Beef and deforestation

Last year, a study in the Science journal found that at least 17% of beef and 20% of soy exported to the EU from certain areas of Brazil may be related to illegal deforestation.

It found that while most of Brazil’s agricultural output is deforestation-free, 2% of properties in the Amazon and Cerrado areas of the country are responsible for 62% of all potentially illegal deforestation.

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