Cross border cooperation
The impetus for Competent Authorities (CAs) to strengthen EUTR enforcement through collaboration is increasing
CAs work together on a bilateral basis and also convene for EUTR expert meetings. But the collaborative initiative perhaps gathering greatest momentum is the Timber Regulation Enforcement Exchange, or TREE. This forum for networking, best practice and intelligence sharing was launched in 2012 by international think tank Chatham House and research institute Forest Trends (FT).
While backed with UK government funding, it is independent and, from the outset, also included US Lacey Act enforcement agencies. Today bodies involved with monitoring and policing Australia’s Illegal Logging Prohibition Act take part too, and other countries introducing timber market legality requirements, or considering it, including Indonesia, are invited.
TREE’s role is to encourage best practice and intelligence exchange, even live cooperation between enforcement bodies. Supplier country representatives, government delegates, NGOs, auditors and other relevant professionals also attend to provide an ‘expert resource’ and speakers. The four-day events now take place twice a year in different European venues.
Forest Trends’ Jade Saunders said the main discussion topic so far has been enforcement of operator/importers’ due diligence obligations, but that could now evolve. “The current focus reflects activity on the ground,” she said. “But going forward delegates may also want to address prohibition issues.” The meetings were increasingly popular, she added, with 25 of 28 EUTR CAs attending so far. One TREE attendee is Michael Kearney Enforcement Manager of the UK CA. “We are advocates for continued international engagement and cooperation in EUTR enforcement,” he said.