Finland and Sweden are pushing back against what they consider “over-regulation” by the EU in forests, forestry and forest products supply chains.
In a letter obtained by Wood Central, prime ministers from both countries acknowledge that “forests, forestry and its value-chain face a lot of pressure from newly negotiated EU legislation on energy, climate and the environment.”
Both countries have concerns over the EU’s new European Green Deal, which will see the EU bloc commit to 55% emission reduction targets by 2030 and total climate neutrality by 2050.
It comes as a new bill supported by EU Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič will push for the development of “an EU-wide forest observation framework” which will provide open access to the condition and management of the Union’s forests.
Foresters, for their part, fear the new development – a concern shared by the prime ministers, who call on the Commission to ensure laws are “clear, coherent and predictable,” in line with the EU’s Better Regulation agenda.
Both leaders argue that the new regulation will add to industry red tape, with forest products accounting for 20% of Finland’s exports and 10% of Sweden’s workforce.
“It is important now to take some time, focus on implementation and analyse the overall impact that these policies eventually have on forests,” they add, before warning: “Forests are best preserved through national practices and know-how”.
The subtext is clear, with both countries wanting to protect Nordic interests and ensure their forestry sector is not forgotten.
“As the preparation of the Strategic Agenda of the EU leaders is about to begin, and Europe is heading towards elections, it is even more important to ensure that forests are part of the solution also in the future,” they write.
“We are committed to finding the best solutions for the next legislative period and the decades to come. And we want to work with you to achieve this,” they write, inviting von der Leyen to visit Sweden or Finland “to discuss further how we best utilise our forests’ and forestry’s potential.”
Finland and Sweden are home to some of the world’s largest forest companies, including IKEA, Metsa Wood and Stora Enso.
Over the past 18 months, both economies have been heavily impacted by the push by Western countries to exit Russia.
Earlier this month, IKEA sold its last asset in Russia, and in January, Wood Central reported that IKEA used 20 million cubic meters of wood in its products, packaging, and communication materials in the 12 months leading up to the war.
For their part, Metsä Group and Stora Enso also produced up to 1 million cubic metres of wood in saw timber, wood chips and pellets through Russian mills.
Last month, Wood Central reported that the Finnish timber and pulp industry was amongst the top 3 markets for Russian imported products.