How ready is the EU Commission to implement its deforestation regulation?

In a specially convened breakout session at the Beurs van Berlage, The Known Unknowns of the EUDR, delegates were reminded that the European Union Deforestation Regulation is one of the shortest introductions of EU legislation ever. As the cocoa sector is venturing into unexplored territory, many ‘unknowns’ remain.

Zoe Druilhe, Policy Officer, EU Commission, found herself in the hot seat, fending off concerns from members that there has not been time to implement all the due diligence requirements. Druiilhe said that, nevertheless, there was no ‘plan b’ despite the most significant unknown being the impact of the new rules on farmers.

Team Europe

But she reassured the meeting that guidance was forthcoming and that there would be a Team Europe initiative launch on a deforestation-free value chain, which would be the central pillar for supporting partnerships and origin countries. She said the EUDR was an extension of the EU’s Sustainable Cocoa Initiative. “We really believe that with a better product that’s going to be environmentally sustainable without deforestation, we can hopefully get a better price for farmers.

“So it’s linking these two dimensions that make this initiative original, which I think can also help reach our objectives in implementing the EUDR and making it successful.”

The panel, from L-R:  Matthijs de Meer (moderator); Ruchira Joshi; Zoe Druilhe; Audrey Lagauche; Kerry Daroci; Andrew Gilboy. Pic: WCF

She said that dialogue with stakeholders is ongoing, and a guidance document is set to be published in early 2024. She promised EU technical assistance with help strengthening or deploying the traceability systems to monitor forests and increase cocoa production. “We are working on standards, working on sustainable practices, working with farmers organisations, where we can because, of course, as development partners, we’re not covering entire countries – it is not possible, nor wishable.”