EC publishes report on evaluation of EU FLEGT Action Plan

The European Commission (EC) has published its report on an independent evaluation of the EU’s initiative against illegal logging: the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan of 2003. The publication, a ‘Staff Working Document’ in EC terminology, summarises the findings of the independent evaluation.

Worker labels a tree trunk to identify the specific company logo and forest number in Cameroon by Marc Vandenhaute, FAO FLEGT Programme

The EC concludes that the evaluation “confirms the relevance and the innovative design of the FLEGT Action Plan, and its important contribution to the international fight against illegal logging and associated trade”.

The evaluation stated that the EU FLEGT Action Plan’s design is ‘present and future-proof’ and that there is strong support for the initiative in the EU and partner timber exporting countries, civil society and the private sector. However, the evaluation also noted implementation challenges and changes in the global context which should inform future action across and within the different pillars and action areas of the EU FLEGT Action Plan.

The EC concludes that the EU FLEGT Action Plan has been effective in terms of its overall objectives of improving forest governance globally and reducing demand for illegal timber in the EU. It added that the degree of effectiveness in each of the EU FLEGT Action Plan’s seven action areas reflects the priority given and the level of investment.

The EC also notes that lasting changes in some producer countries, in terms of legal reforms, governance and democratic processes, have resulted from progress towards:

  • Better implementation and enforcement of the EU Timber Regulation, which only entered into force in 2013
  • The start of FLEGT licensing of verified legal timber products exported to the EU by countries that have implemented Voluntary Partnership Agreements with the EU.

The EC acknowledges that while the design of the EU FLEGT Action Plan provided a comprehensive overarching policy framework it did not include targets, priorities and associated budgetary resources to facilitate strategic planning, which has hampered its effectiveness and efficiency.

Nonetheless, says the report: “many stakeholders, both in the EU and in producer countries, recognise the EU FLEGT Action Plan as relatively cost-effective. Wider benefits include ‘raising the bar’ internationally by improving forest governance, increasing involvement of civil society, improving transparency and accountability, increasing income and level the playing field.”

The EC says the EU FLEGT Action Plan is a good example of policy coherence between EU and international policies and frameworks including sustainable development, environmental protection and climate change. The EC notes, however, that a need for more active participation by EU Member States; better planning, steering and coordination in the deployment of the various measures and support; and stronger monitoring and evaluation arrangements.

The EC says the conclusions of the evaluation, and related exercises such as the evaluation of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) and the European Court of Auditor’s Special Report on FLEGT support to timber-producing countries, will feed into reflection on how to address identified challenges and shortcomings and improve the performance of the EU FLEGT Action Plan, taking into account the evolving global and EU context.

The SWD was published on 2 August 2016. It is available for download here: https://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/swd2016275-staff-working-document-evaluation-flegt-ap_en 

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