RECOMMENDATION on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the 2006 International Tropical Timber Agreement

18.7.2011 - (05812/2011 – C7-0061/2011 – 2006/0263(NLE)) - ***

Committee on International Trade
Rapporteur: Vital Moreira

Procedure : 2006/0263(NLE)
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on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the 2006 International Tropical Timber Agreement

(05812/2011 – C7-0061/2011 – 2006/0263(NLE))


The European Parliament,

 having regard to the draft Council decision (05812/2011),

 having regard to the draft 2006 International Tropical Timber Agreement (11964/2007),

 having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Articles 192, 207 and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C7-0061/2011),

 having regard to Rules 81 and 90(8) of its Rules of Procedure,

 having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on International Trade (A7-0280/2011),

1.        Consents to conclusion of the Agreement;

2.        Calls on the Commission to provide, whenever requested by Parliament, any relevant information regarding the implementation of this Agreement, namely on action plans and programmes, as well as the decisions taken by the bodies established by the Agreement;

3.        Calls on the Commission to submit a review of the implementation of the Agreement to Parliament and the Council in the final year of application, before negotiations are opened on the renewal of the Agreement, in particular in relation to the Union’s own forest law enforcement, governance and trade instruments;

4.        Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and to the International Tropical Timber Organization.


The proposal for a Council decision on the signing, on behalf of the European Community, and provisional application of the International Tropical Timber Agreement, 2006 (ITTA, 2006) is a reconsultation on a procedure that had already been referred to Parliament in 2007. On 23 September 2008, Parliament adopted a resolution tabled by INTA (P6_TA(2008)0454) that explains why Parliament chose not to adopt the draft report (A6-0313/2008) on the proposal for a Council decision on the conclusion of the ITTA, 2006 11964/2007 – C6‑0326/2007 – 2006/0263(CNS)). The new referral confirms Parliament's initial demands for being provided with the right to give consent to or reject the agreement, pursuant to Articles 207 and 218(6)(a) TFEU.

The International Tropical Timber Agreement, 2006 and the International Tropical Timber Organisation

On 27 January 2006 the negotiating conference established under the aegis of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development approved the text of the International Tropical Timber Agreement, 2006. The 2006 Agreement was negotiated to replace the International Tropical Timber Agreement, 1994, as extended, which will remain in force until the entry into force of the 2006 Agreement. All EU Member States have expressed their intention to sign, and to contribute as appropriate towards the provisional application of the 2006 Agreement.

The 2006 Agreement, concluded between producers and consumers of timber products, is a 10-year agreement and subject to review every five years. The objectives of the 2006 Agreement are, among others, to promote the expansion and diversification of international trade in tropical timber from sustainable managed and legally harvested forests and to promote the sustainable management of tropical timber producing forests by providing an effective framework for consultation, international cooperation and policy development among all members with regard to all relevant aspects of the world timber economy.

The agreement identifies ways to ensure a credible licensing scheme as a measure to that only timber products that are legally produced enter the market,[1] and confirms the very existence and operating mechanisms of the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO), established by the International Tropical Timber Agreement, 1983. More than 80% of the producers and importers of tropical timber products are members of the organisation and contracting parties to the ITTA.[2]

The EU's additional measures to combat illegal logging

In order to address the growing problem of illegal logging the EU introduced in 2003 an Action Plan for the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). The Action plans of FLEGT set out measures to combat illegal logging as well as to develop multilateral partnerships designed to raise awareness of the negative effects of illegal logging. The cornerstone and external face of FLEGT is the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), a bilateral agreement that the EU negotiates with individual countries that export timber. VPA signatory parties commit to promote better governance and traceability mechanisms along the supply chain. Under the VPA, timber monitoring mechanisms are introduced to verify the legality of the timber exported to the EU. Thus far, the EU has signed VPAs with Cameroon, Congo (Brazzaville) and Ghana.[3] Negotiations with the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Indonesia, Liberia, Malaysia and Vietnam are underway.

On 20 October 2010, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market.[4] It prohibits the placing on the internal market of illegally harvested timber or timber products derived from such timber. Traders shall, throughout the supply chain, be able to identify the operators or the traders who have supplied the timber and timber products, and where applicable, the traders to whom they have supplied timber and timber products. Moreover, the Regulation introduces a due diligence system requiring operators who place timber or timber products on the internal market for the first time to exercise due diligence through a system comprising three elements inherent to risk management (access to information - risk assessment procedures - mitigation of the risk identified incorporating measures and procedures).

Regarding sanctions, the EU Member States shall lay down the rules on penalties applicable to infringements of the provisions of this Regulation and shall take all measures necessary to ensure that they are implemented. Sanctions must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive and may take the form of fines proportionate to the environmental damage, the value of the timber or timber products concerned and the tax losses and economic detriment resulting from the infringement; seizure of the timber and timber products concerned; or the immediate suspension of authorisation to trade.


According to OECD estimates, each year an area of original forest covering the size of Greece is lost, threatening irreplaceable biodiversity with extinction and increasing the risk of global warming. Although it is more than 20 years since the 1st ITTA was concluded, over-exploitation and illegal logging remain widespread. Almost half of all logging activities in regions such as the Amazon, Congo Basin, South East Asia and Russia are illegal.

The Council of EU and the EU Commission support the ITTA, 2006, which they believe addresses the most pressing issues of the timber industry. The ITTO will continue its work on issues such as deforestation and illegal logging, but more can be done on strengthening the forest law enforcement, like the abovementioned additional measures adopted by the EU illustrate.

In the meantime, your Rapporteur welcomes this agreement and proposes that Parliament gives its consent.

Parliament and the current proposal

The entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon has conferred increased powers on Parliament regarding international trade agreements. Point 19 of the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the Commission[5] states that "In connection with international agreements, including trade agreements, the Commission shall provide early and clear information to Parliament both during the phase of preparation of the agreements and during the conduct and conclusion of international negotiations. This information covers the draft negotiating directives, the adopted negotiating directives, the subsequent conduct of negotiations and the conclusion of the negotiations". The above information "shall be provided to Parliament in sufficient time for it to be able to express its point of view if appropriate, and for the Commission to be able to take Parliament’s views as far as possible into account ...". Article 218(10) of the TFEU has provided for "Parliament ... [to] be immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedure". This stipulation must therefore be put fully into effect, as Parliament called for in paragraph 3(h) of its resolution of 9 February 2010 on a revised Framework Agreement between the European Parliament and the Commission.

The European Commission shall regularly inform the European Parliament about the application of ITTA, 2006. In doing so, it shall check ITTA's implementation against the EU's own forest law enforcement, governance and trade instruments.

In line with the European Parliament legislative resolution of 24 September 2008[6], your Rapporteur recalls that when drafting the negotiating mandate for the revision of the International Tropical Timber Agreement, 2006, the Commission should propose that the current text be revised, placing the protection and sustainable management of tropical forests and the restoration of forest areas that have been degraded at the heart of the agreement, stressing the importance of education and information policy in the countries affected by the problem of deforestation in order to enhance public awareness of the negative consequences of exploiting timber resources in an abusive manner. Trade in tropical timber should only be encouraged to the extent compatible with these prior objectives. In particular, this mandate for the revision of the International Tropical Timber Agreement, 2006 should propose a voting mechanism for the International Tropical Timber Council that clearly rewards the conservation and sustainable use of tropical forests.

  • [1]
  • [2]
  • [3]        A. Attah/F. Ioras/I.V. Abrudan/ J. Ratnasingam: "The Voluntary Partnership Agreement: the Ghanaian and Malaysian experience", in: International Forestry Review, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp. 311-319; Chris Beeko / Camilla Adelle: "The Implementation Of The EU’s Voluntary Partnership Agreement Initiative To Combat Illegal Logging: Reflections From The Supply Side", in: Studia Diplomatica, Vol. LXII: 2009, No. 4, pp. 173.
  • [4]          OJ L 295, 12.11.2010, p. 23.
  • [5]          OJ C 117 E, 18.5.2006, p. 123.
  • [6]  P6_TA-PROV(2008)0453


Date adopted





Result of final vote







Members present for the final vote

William (The Earl of) Dartmouth, Laima Liucija Andrikienė, Kader Arif, David Campbell Bannerman, Daniel Caspary, Marielle De Sarnez, Christofer Fjellner, Metin Kazak, David Martin, Vital Moreira, Paul Murphy, Cristiana Muscardini, Franck Proust, Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl, Niccolò Rinaldi, Helmut Scholz, Peter Šťastný, Keith Taylor, Paweł Zalewski

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Josefa Andrés Barea, George Sabin Cutaş, Norbert Glante, Syed Kamall, Elisabeth Köstinger

Substitute(s) under Rule 187(2) present for the final vote

Rosa Estaràs Ferragut, Vicky Ford