UCL Faculty of Laws


Regulating Trade in Forest-Risk Commodities: Two Cheers for the European Union

By Dr Gracia Marín Durán (Associate Professor in International Economic Law at UCL Laws) and Professor Joanne Scott (Professor of European Law at UCL Laws).

Close up image of green leaves on trees and a tree trunk

18 February 2022

Publication details

Marin Duran, Gracia and Scott, Joanne; (2022) 'Regulating Trade in Forest-Risk Commodities: Two Cheers for the European Union', Journal of Environmental Law, 34(2) https://doi.org/10.1093/jel/eqac002


The European Union (EU) is a major importer of forest-risk commodities (FRCs) and thereby bears significant responsibility for the dangerous trend of global deforestation and forest degradation. On 17 November 2021, the European Commission took a courageous first step towards reducing the EU’s global deforestation footprint, by putting forward a legislative proposal to regulate trade in FRCs. The article analyses this proposal and explains why we consider it to be necessary and justified. Although we identify some important shortcomings in the proposal, particularly in relation to the protection of land tenure rights, we argue that the EU has a moral responsibility to avoid being complicit in the destruction of forests worldwide. We also suggest that the proposed regulation needs to be better designed to be compatible with the law of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and notably with regards to its country benchmarking system and cooperation with affected exporting countries. 

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