In relation to policy initiatives like FLEGT, the decline in the relative significance of the EU as an importer of timber products after Brexit will be mitigated by the commitment of the UK government and timber trade to continue to support the VPA process and EUTR.
Speaking at a meeting organized by the UK Confederation of Timber Industries in February, Therese Coffey, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), stated that: “When the UK leaves the EU, the Withdrawal Bill will make sure the whole body of European environmental law continues to have effect in UK law.
That [includes] two regulations that the UK timber sector played a great role in shaping: the European Union Timber Regulation and the Forest Law Environment Governance and Trade Regulation”.
She went on to state that: “We are committed to supporting sustainable and legal timber and forest industries and recognize the value of the EUTR and the EU FLEGT initiative in assuring this."
This was believed to be the first time that a UK minister had made a definitive statement of this kind and was welcomed by the audience of forestry and timber sector representatives and leading businesses.
“The UK timber sector was at the forefront in the development of the EUTR and the EU FLEGT initiative and the vast majority of our members support their retention post-Brexit,” said David Hopkins, UK TTF Managing Director, and Director of the CTI.
“The EUTR is a business friendly, flexible regulation to ensure goods are sourced responsibly, protecting the environment and business reputation. Abandoning the regulation [and support for the EU FLEGT initiative] now would cause unnecessary upheaval and market confusion.
I would like to thank the Minister for this commitment and giving us the certainty our sector needs.”