MEPs criticize the new EU Forest Strategy
Following the publication of the new EU Forest Strategy, the EU Agriculture Commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski, presented the new Strategy to the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) during the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee meeting on 1 September 2021.
After the presentation, MEPs remained unconvinced by the new Strategy, which had already received considerable criticism from a number of Member States.
Petri Sarvamaa, a Finnish MEP, stressed that what the sector needed was clarity and a clear vision forward, but that this strategy offered neither. He added, “The Greens aren’t happy with it, the Socialists aren’t happy, we are not happy – who is happy about this?”
Green MEP Martin Haeusling stressed the need to adapt to the changing climate, warning that the European Union will see many more forest fires in the future. “The burden of this will fall on Greece, Italy and increasingly other countries – but the strategy provides no answers for this,” he said.
Other MEPs expressed concerns that the Strategy does not strike a balance between economic and environmental considerations.
“It gives the impression that forests are only to be considered as carbon sinks,” Renew Europe’s Ulrike Müller complained, stressing that she cannot accept that the forestry economy would be “pushed into the background.”
Right wing MEP Mazaly Aguilar concurred, saying the strategy must do “a lot more to implement the multi-functional role of forests.” Addressing the Commissioner, Aguilar said that Parliament “continues to request more ambition to take into account national realities and not only look at forests as carbon sinks.”
Meanwhile, other MEPs pointed to concerns that the Commission is overstepping their bounds given that forestry is a national competence. In response, the Commissioner maintained that the EU-wide forestry strategy can be implemented without stepping on the toes of Member States. While he stressed that forestry will remain firmly in the remit of Member States and that this will not change, Wojciechowski sees the Commission’s role as “encouraging joint action but to an extent that does not take away Member State competences and does not interfere with them.”
Published 15/09/2021, Brussels
Ms. Sophie HUGON
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