It is estimated that the EU is responsible for between 10 and 16 percent of the world's deforestation.

Because they import products such as soy, beef or palm oil that are grown on cleared land.

The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers now want to put an end to this.

Negotiators from both EU institutions agreed on Tuesday night to stop the import of a number of goods for which the rainforest is cut down.

Beef, leather, coffee, cocoa, soy and rubber, tires, charcoal, wood and printed paper are affected.

Palm oil and most palm oil derivatives are also included.

The inclusion of maize is to be reviewed two years after the EU rules come into force.

Henrik Kafsack

Business correspondent in Brussels.

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Member States had blocked the inclusion of maize.

They fear that the already tense situation in the world's food markets due to the war in Ukraine could become even worse.

However, the European Parliament was able to ensure that the list of affected goods goes beyond the Commission proposal from the end of 2021.

On the other hand, Parliament was not able to push through the fact that, in addition to the clearing of primary forests such as the rainforest, other forested areas should also be included.

That should have protected the South American cerrado savannah, for example.

"The situation in the Cerrado could even get worse because companies are now moving from protected forest areas to these unprotected areas," criticized the German Environmental Aid.

However, contrary to what is proposed by the Commission, the conversion of secondary forests into plantations or shrubland falls within the scope, which also affects European forests.

No import ban in the strict sense

The EU rules are not strictly an import ban.

Rather, as with the supply chain law, which is still in the legislative process, the importers are held accountable.

In the future, they will have to prove that no forest was cleared for the production of the goods they imported.

You should determine the geodata of the extraction site.

In combination with satellite images, it should be possible to ensure that the goods do not come from areas that were forested at the end of 2020.

The obligation to provide evidence depends on how high the risk is in the country of origin that the rainforest will be cleared.

The EU Commission is to draw up a list of countries based on risk.

The controls that the EU member states have to carry out are also based on this list.

In countries with a high risk of deforestation, they should check 9 percent of products and market participants, in countries with a low risk it is only 1 percent.

EU as a credible pioneer

SPD MEP Delara Burkhardt welcomed the compromise.

"While some painful compromises had to be made, this regulation sets a global gold standard for due diligence for deforestation-free supply chains," she said.

Similar laws being debated in the US and UK are less ambitious.

This would allow the EU to act as a credible pioneer for global nature conservation at the World Conservation Conference in Montreal.

"As a large trading bloc, the EU will not only change the rules of the game within its borders, but will also create a major incentive for other countries to take this step," emphasized the WWF.

Until recently, the EU Parliament had insisted that the EU rules also apply to financial institutions.

However, the Member States objected.

In two years' time, the European Commission is to present an assessment of whether the current EU law is sufficient to do justice to the role of banks, pension funds and insurance companies in global deforestation and, if necessary, then present a separate legislative proposal.

Studies have shown that European banks are instrumental in financing projects and companies that contribute to deforestation elsewhere, said MEP Anna Cavazzini.

"We Greens will insist that other forested areas be included in the regulation after one year and financial institutions after two years."

The EU Parliament and the Council of Ministers still have to officially accept the agreement.

But that should be a matter of form.

For medium-sized and large companies, the regulation should apply one and a half years after it comes into force, i.e. probably in spring or summer 2024. Small companies will have half a year more time.