The long awaited "Fitness Check" of the EUTR and the FLEGT Regulation was published on 17 November alongside the EU's Deforestation regulatory proposal. The stated objective of the Fitness Check is to assess whether "these two instruments are fit for their purpose to halt illegal logging and related trade as set out in both Regulations" and the main conclusion is that "the general objectives of the two Regulations have not yet been fully met".
According to the Fitness Check, "while there are tangible signals that both Regulations together have been moderately successful in their aim to prohibit the placement of illegally logged timber on the EU market, it is difficult to conclude (based on the data available) that they have had a significant effect on illegal logging globally".
On the specifics of the VPA with Indonesia, the Fitness Check is more positive noting that "the implementation of the FLEGT licensing scheme with Indonesia has worked well", a fact which is attributed to "the Indonesian SVLK [being] fully integrated in a wider reform of the national forest governance system and not seen as an 'add-on' only inspired by trade concerns".
The Fitness Check notes that many elements of FLEGT licencing "have been implemented successfully both by Indonesia and EU member States, and processes and systems are continuously updated and improved".
It is also noted that "the level of exports from Indonesia to the EU has risen since licencing commenced (although less so than overall imports to the EU).
Remaining challenges are addressed as they arise….The SILK database for Indonesia shows that from 2013 there was improvement in operator compliance as expected in advance of FLEGT licensing".
More widely with regard to the FLEGT VPAs, the Fitness Check notes that a "great amount of learning can be drawn from the Indonesian experience" and that "there is evidence of VPA partner countries taking steps in the right direction and putting in place the foundations for improvements in the future, i.e. concerning governance, civil society participation, clarifications around existing definitions and legislation".