The updated guidance provides greater clarity on the definition of "Placing on the market" in terms of when timber products are first supplied on the EU market for distribution or use. This is the point when "operators" must comply with the prohibition on placing illegally harvested timber on the market and exercise due diligence.

The European Commission said its guidance document was deemed necessary following discussions with stakeholders, Member States and members of the Forest Law Enforcement, Trade and Governance committee.

"The TTF team believes this updated definition provides a lot more clarity for TTF members as well as some flexibility to arrange contracts in a way that suits all parties, when European brokers/intermediaries are involved in sourcing products," the TTF said.
Its key points are:

(a) For timber harvested within the EU, the entity that distributes or uses the timber when it has been harvested is the operator.
(b)(i) For timber harvested outside the EU, the entity acting as the importer when the timber is cleared by EU customs authorities for free circulation is the operator. In the majority of cases, the importer can be identified as the named or numbered Consignee in Box 8 of the customs declaration document
(b)(ii) For timber or timber products imported to the EU, the definition of operator is independent of the ownership of the product, or other contractual arrangements.

The guidance says FLEGT-licensed timber and imports covered by CITES certificates comply with the legislation. In the case of composite products, the operator will have to provide a list of each species of wood used to produce the wood.

The commission said the document, which also outlines scenarios in which companies would be considered an "operator", would be a useful reference guide, shedding lights on parts of the legislation that are difficult to understand.

The TTF is working with Defra to try to make the Commission update the document’s practical scenarios annex further to improve clarity and relevance for its members.

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