Stricter draft rules on timber sold in the EU received the backing of the full session of the European Parliament today.

The legislative report, penned by Green MEP Caroline Lucas, recommends that all operators in the timber supply chain must prove the legality of their timber and illegal timber suppliers must pay penalties that reflect the degree of environmental and economic damage.

The report, which will receive a final hearing before the European council of ministers in June, was adopted with 465 for, 22 against and 187 abstentions.

Financial penalties for traders caught dealing in illegally felled timber must represent “at least five times the value of the timber products obtained” and they will increase in the event of repeat infringements.

The “due diligence system”, approved by MEPs, requires operators to reduce the risk of placing illegally harvested timber and timber products on the EU market to a minimum, using a system of detailed measures and procedures.

This system only applies to operators placing the timber in the market for the first time, since they are considered to have the biggest influence and responsibility.

Earlier this year, the European Parliament’s environment committee amended original recommendations which had been created by the European Commission.