The EU timber regulation and CITES

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This paper examines the interface between the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR). The paper provided background information for a workshop on CITES and the EUTR at Chatham House on 12-13 December 2013. The exemption from EUTR requirements for products traded under CITES could provide a new incentive for CITES Authorities, exporters and importers to cheat. There are a number of weaknesses within CITES trade controls which limit their ability to validate compliance with relevant legislation, and so could undermine effective implementation of the EUTR. These relate to the lack of criteria for Legal Acquisition Findings and absence of third-party oversight mechanisms. The scope of legality within CITES is also much narrower than that for the EUTR. CITES considers laws ‘for the protection of fauna and flora', and this tends to be narrowly interpreted, for example, not considering laws relating to land-use and tenure, nor payment of taxes. There is also some incompatibility between CITES compliance mechanisms and objectives of the EUTR. These include the fact that CITES is designed to address broader governance problems rather than individual legal infractions, its focus on species survival and the poor quality of data which can trigger non-compliance action. Recommendations are made to both CITES and EUTR decision-makers and stakeholders in order to develop potential compliance and enforcement synergies. These include the need for a more rigorous assessment of legal compliance and traceability in the supply chains of CITES species.

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