Print Friendly and PDF

VPAs and the FLEGT Action Plan

Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) are one of several elements in the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan of 2003, which aims to address illegal logging. The EU developed the FLEGT Action Plan in response to rising international concerns about the social, economic and environmental impacts of illegal logging.

In the early 2000s, international efforts to tackle illegal logging focused on forest management, law enforcement and governance, but not trade. These efforts failed to stem illegality. The European Union therefore decided to factor trade into the policy response to illegal logging. Trade has the potential to create strong incentives in both producer countries and the EU market for verified legal products. The EU FLEGT Action Plan therefore includes both demand- and supply-side measures:

  • The EU FLEGT Regulation of 2005, and associated Council instructions, empower the European Commission to negotiate VPAs with timber-exporting countries and EU authorities to establish rules for imports of FLEGT-licensed products from VPA partner countries
  • Other legislation. For instance, the EU Timber Regulation of 2013 requires EU importers to adopt procedures, often referred to as due diligence procedures, to ensure that the timber and timber products they trade in are legal
  • Support to timber-exporting countries that wish to address illegal logging
  • Support to private-sector initiatives, including voluntary codes of conduct for companies that source timber
  • Promotion of public procurement policies that source only legal products
  • Efforts to ensure that investments do not promote illegal logging
  • Action to address the problem of ‘conflict timber', which is timber whose sale finances armed conflict

More information

External links

What is the EU FLEGT Action Plan?

EU FLEGT Facility

FLEGT Regulation

European Commission. 2012. Combatting illegal logging: Lessons from the EU FLEGT Action Plan. [Download PDF]

European Union. 2007. FLEGT Briefing Note 01: What is FLEGT? European Union. [Download PDF]

European Union. 2007. FLEGT Briefing Note 02: What is legal timber? European Union. [Download PDF]

European Union. 2007. FLEGT Briefing Note 06: Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA). European Union. [Download PDF]