The European Union Timber Regulation

The European Union Timber Regulation

 By Jim Coulson, Director of TFT Woodexperts Limited 

There have been a lot of articles in the mainstream Trade Press about the European Union Timber Regulation – or EUTR – and quite a few misleading statements have been made about it. (If you haven’t even heard of the EUTR, don’t worry too much, since it is unlikely to affect anyone further down the supply chain than the importer or distributor of wood-based materials.)

The EUTR came into force at the beginning of March this year, with very little “fanfare”, even though it had been expected for a year before that. Essentially, it is a requirement for those who place wood-derived products of any sort onto the market within the EU, to show that the timber has been obtained legally. The Regulation uses the phrase: “First Placer on the Market” – but all this really means is the company or individual who actually offers something for sale for the first time, rather than re-selling it or trading it on. So those in the construction industry who use timber, plywood etc. are simply too far down the chain of supply to fall into the EUTR’s net. However, this is where the confusion has been creeping in.

It has been wrongly stated in certain quarters that everyone who buys or sells anything containing wood must have a Due Diligence system in place, to prove that they have not been buying anything illegal. But that is not the case. A Due Diligence system is required, but only by the “First Placer on the Market”, not by anybody else further down the chain. So builders, joiners or contractors will only need to ask the question (if they even wish to do so) of their suppliers, “Are these products covered by the correct EUTR paperwork?”

A lot of unnecessary hassle has been caused by main contractors insisting that their sub-contractors have their own Due Diligence paperwork trails in place, just to “prove” they are buying “legal” wood products – but that is nonsense, and it is not the intention of the EUTR.  All that paperwork should have been done by the importer or supplier (whoever is the “First Placer on the Market”, remember). So you can therefore just get on with your job.

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