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Council gives final approval to tackling distortive foreign subsidies on the internal market

28 November 2022

The regulation addresses distortions created by subsidies that are granted by non-EU countries to companies operating on the EU single market. It lays down the procedural rules for investigating these subsidies in the context of large concentrations and bids in large public procurement procedures.

In doing so, the regulation aims to restore fair competition between all companies operating in the internal market — both European and non-European.

At present, subsidies granted by member states are subject to compliance with state aid rules, but there is no EU instrument to control similar subsidies granted by non-EU countries. To address this issue, the foreign subsidies regulation establishes a framework for the Commission to examine any economic activity benefiting from a subsidy granted by a non-EU country on the internal market.

For more information: Council gives final approval to tackling distortive foreign subsidies on the internal market - Consilium (europa.eu)

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Forest Fires in Europe, Middle East and North Africa 2021 - JRC report published

02 November 2022

The Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) published the latest edition of its Annual Report on Forest Fires in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa in 2021. It concludes that last year's fire season was the second worst in the EU territory in terms of burnt area (since records began in 2006), after 2017 when over 10,000 km² had burnt. More than 5,500 km² of land burnt in 2021 – more than twice the size of Luxembourg – with over 1,000 km² burnt within protected Natura 2000 areas, the EU's reservoir of biodiversity.
The report does not yet cover this year's fires, which have been even more destructive than the ones in 2021. The annual reports allow having past fire seasons as a reference when analysing preliminary data on the impact of wildfires in the current year. With this perspective, 2022 is looking even worse, confirming the worrying destructive trend of recent years. In fact, an area covering 8,600 km² already burnt this year. This is one of the largest area scorched by wildfires in Europe by the end of October, setting new burnt records in nine EU countries. In total, since the worst fire season on records in 2017, 35,340 km² – an area larger than Belgium – have been scorched by wildfires. About 35% of the total area burnt, more than 11,600 km², was in the Natura 2000 network area.

For more information visit: Forest Fires in Europe, Middle East and North Africa 2021 (europa.eu)

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China's importation of logs and lumber plunged in the 1H/22 to its lowest level in over a decade

20 October 2022

China's economy weakened in the 1H/22 as the COVID epidemic took its toll in cities such as Shanghai. US financial institutions forecast the GDP growth to range between 3-4% in 2022, less than the Chinese government's target of 5.5% for the year. The GDP outlook is on pace to be the second-lowest, after 2020, in 45 years. 
The weak economy, widespread Covid-related shutdowns of the manufacturing industry, logistical bottlenecks with supply chain interruption, and less demand for housing and apartments have reduced consumption of wood products in the past years. The decline in wood demand has resulted in a sharp drop in the importation of logs and lumber. From an all-time high in the 3Q/20 to the 1Q/22, China's import volume of softwood forest products fell over 50%

For more information visit: WRI_Market-Insights_2022-China-Log-and-Lumber-Imports_July-2022.pdf (woodprices.com)

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Trade growth to slow sharply in 2023 as global economy faces strong headwinds

05 October 2022

World trade is expected to lose momentum in the second half of 2022 and remain subdued in 2023 as multiple shocks weigh on the global economy. WTO economists now predict global merchandise trade volumes will grow by 3.5% in 2022—slightly better than the 3.0% forecast in April. For 2023, however, they foresee a 1.0% increase—down sharply from the previous estimate of 3.4%.

Import demand is expected to soften as growth slows in major economies for different reasons. In Europe, high energy prices stemming from the Russia-Ukraine war will squeeze household spending and raise manufacturing costs. In the United States, monetary policy tightening will hit interest-sensitive spending in areas such as housing, motor vehicles and fixed investment. China continues to grapple with COVID-19 outbreaks and production disruptions paired with weak external demand. Finally, growing import bills for fuels, food and fertilizers could lead to food insecurity and debt distress in developing countries.

Full WTO statistics available here - https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/pres22_e/pr909_e.htm 

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The Russian National Voluntary Forest Certification System (FCR) has been suspended by the PEFC International Board, in mutual agreement with PEFC Russia.

1 August 2022

The suspension is intended to preserve the conditions for a successful long-term cooperation with PEFC Russia in order to support sustainable forest management in the Russian Federation in light of the current political situation.

The suspension is effective as of 11 August 2022 and suspension is initially valid until 31 December 2022.

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The Commission has published the 2022 edition of the Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) review

1 3 July 2022

Amongst other findings, the report shows young people were among the most negatively affected by job losses during the economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also shows that the recovery was slower for them than for other age groups. Possible explanations are linked to their high share of fixed-term contracts and difficulties in finding a first job after leaving school, university, or training.

The new report helps identify and underpin the employment and social policies needed to address the challenges young people are facing to become economically independent, in the face of a worsening socio-economic situation due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The full report is available here ----> https://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?langId=en&catId=89&newsId=10330&furtherNews=yes

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Fit for 55 package: Council reaches general approaches relating to emissions reductions and their social impacts

1 July 2022

During its presidency, the Czech Republic will focus on five closely linked priority areas:

  1. Managing the refugee crisis and Ukraine’s post-war recovery

  2. Energy security

  3. Strengthening Europe’s defence capabilities and cyberspace security

  4. Strategic resilience of the European economy

  5. Resilience of democratic institutions

The official website of the Presidency is available here - https://czech-presidency.consilium.europa.eu/en/

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Businesses call for fresh political engagement to renew economic integration in the single market

27 June 2022

In the wake of the economic fallout created by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, rising energy prices, the ongoing COVID pandemic and Brexit, the time is ripe for the renewal of European integration. This is the best way to generate economic growth, secure employment and promote social inclusion for future generations. On top of being one of the pillars of peace and prosperity, the Single Market is the bedrock of the EU economy and the foundation upon which many of the EU’s current objectives are being built. It is instrumental to our ability to absorb external shocks, leverage geopolitical power, strengthen open strategic autonomy, drive recovery and deliver on the green and digital transitions. The business community recognises its own responsibility and fully embraces the constructive contribution it can make to address the current challenges. For its part, the public sector has an important role to play, by reducing market fragmentation and removing red tape including for cross-border business operations. Jumpstarting the motor of Single Market is the best opportunity we have; and it is a responsibility which lies fully in the hands of governments. It should be undertaken urgently for the sake of creating new growth and jobs, as well as avoiding social hardship in the coming decade.

The signatories of this statement are deeply concerned about the negative prospects for the European economy. More than that, we are troubled by the European Union’s lack of initiative to really deepen the Single Market in the past decade. Businesses no longer experience the Single Market as a true free trade area. EU legislation too often allows for differentiated transposition in EU Member States and the Commission’s enforcement policy is lacking teeth against Member States which introduce national rules or administrative requirements leading to further market fragmentation. Companies cannot scale-up to other countries without facing a wide variety of barriers and their innovative drive is hampered by the myriad of technical limitations, undermining the EU’s capacity to be globally competitive. Especially SMEs are struggling with the growing number of compliance obligations and the costs that are associated with them, which is in turn hampering their ability to be competitive. Policymakers at EU and national level should resist the temptation to regulate every element of the economy and instead aim to better evaluate and reduce the ever-expanding list of demands and requirements on companies. Otherwise, the EU becomes less attractive for businesses.

The joint statement by BusinessEurope, DIGITALEUROPE, ERT, Eurochambres and EuroCommerce is available here: https://ert.eu/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Joint-industry-statement-on-the-Single-Market-27-June-2022.pdf

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Speech by President von der Leyen at the Opening Session of the Conference "Reconstructing the Future for People and Planet – a New European Bauhaus Initiative", organised by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences

9 June 2022

Humans need beauty to thrive. And here I'm not just talking about aesthetics. I'm also taking about another kind of beauty: the quality of life. There is a project in Luxembourg that recently won a Bauhaus prize: A new building for a day-care centre and primary school. It was constructed almost entirely from wood. Other natural elements were also used, like straw, clay and wool – all sourced locally. As you know, sustainably harvested timber can reduce a building's carbon emissions by up to 60%. Pope Francis is so right when he says that humans are not meant to be inundated by cement and steel. Building more with natural elements, like wood, is both good for the planet, and good for the wellbeing of people.

The full EC President speech is available here: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/SPEECH_22_3563

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Paul Brannen: Is the Swedish forest industry ready for the future?

9 May 2022

Although Paul Brannen says early in his conversation that the most climate-smart building is the one that already exists, (meaning that it is not good for the climate to demolish old buildings to make room for new ones), according to Brannen, buildings and construction contribute to almost 40 % of the world's global emissions of fossil greenhouse gases. Concrete alone accounts for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Adjusting and building more in wood is a double profit (perhaps triple because industry antagonists can be part of this) as you eliminate emissions during construction while building stored coal in planks and boards. Furthermore, he talks about building in wood today is not a problem whether it is about building on height or fire risks. 

For more information visit: https://iskogen.se/skogsindustri/paul-brannen-ar-svensk-skogsindustri-redo/

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The European Commission has proposed to suspend for one year import duties on all Ukrainian exports to the European Union

27 April 2022

The proposal would also see the suspension for one year of all EU anti-dumping and safeguard measures in place on Ukrainian steel exports.
This proposal is designed to help boost Ukraine's exports to the EU. It will help alleviate the difficult situation of Ukrainian producers and exporters. In this difficult context, the EU wants to do as much as possible to help Ukraine to maintain its trade position with the rest of the world and further deepen its trade relations with the EU.
The EU is also already taking measures on the ground to facilitate overland goods transport to help to get Ukrainian products out into the world. For example, the Commission has already started liberalising the conditions for Ukrainian truck drivers transporting goods between Ukraine and the EU, as well as facilitating transit and the use of EU infrastructure to channel Ukrainian exports towards third countries.
The proposal now needs to be considered and agreed by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.

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Sustainable Carbon Cycles:  What role for forests? 

26 April 2022

The Wood Be Better network will host its next event, in a hybrid form, focusing on the upcoming legislative proposal on carbon removal certification on the 1 June 2022. 

The discussion will focus on the European Commissions Communication on Sustainable Carbon Cycles and the forthcoming regulatory framework for the certification of carbon removals. How can we ensure that carbon removal schemes do not divert action from reducing fossil emissions, the number one priority in mitigating climate change? And what risks and opportunities do carbon farming models for forests provide in terms of developing the bioeconomy?

To register:

https://ui.ungpd.com/Events/baab1476-2828-428a-8a19-6a189aa5cd6e?AccountId=c9ea1cb0-a0fd-4661-a700-0e64bed55198&ContactId=bb6210c4-990b-4e7a-894d-65493a3c8887&IssueId=8f97f193-599d-4abc-921d-1e0d6203b4e5&ir=f8102922-b793-4fe5-970e-e20fda209436 

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WTO Press Release: Russia-Ukraine conflict puts fragile global trade recovery at risk 

12 April 2022

Prospects for the global economy have darkened since the outbreak of war in Ukraine prompting WTO economists to reassess their projections for world trade over the next two years, mainly: 

•    The most immediate economic impact of the crisis has been a sharp rise in commodity prices. Despite their small shares in world trade and output, Russia and Ukraine are key suppliers of essential goods including food, energy, and fertilizers, supplies of which are now threatened by the war. 
•    Grain shipments through Black Sea ports have already been halted, with potentially dire consequences for food security in poor countries.
•    World merchandise trade volume is expected to grow 3.0% in 2022 (down from 4.7% previously) and 3.4% in 2023, but these figures may be subject to revision due to uncertainty about the course of the conflict in Ukraine.
•    World GDP at market exchange rates is expected to increase by 2.8% in 2022 after rising 5.7% in 2021. Output growth should pick up to 3.2% in 2023, assuming persistent geopolitical and economic uncertainty.
•    The Commonwealth of Independent States region should see a 12.0% decline in imports and a 7.9% drop in GDP in 2022, but exports should grow by 4.9% as other countries continue to rely on Russian energy. Regional disparities may narrow due to weak import demand in Europe and Asia.
•    The volume of merchandise trade rose 9.8% in 2021. The US$ value of this trade grew 26% to US$ 22.4 trillion. The value of commercial services trade was also up 15% in 2021 to US$ 5.7 trillion.
•    Services trade will also be affected by the conflict in Ukraine, including in the transport sector, which covers container shipping and passenger air transport.

https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/pres22_e/pr902_e.htm

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FSC and PEFC suspend Russian and Belarus wood certification

4 March 2022

The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) said on 4 March that all wood materials from the two countries would be considered "conflict timber" and could not be used in PEFC-certified products.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has also suspended trading certificates in Russia and Belarus and will "block wood sourcing" from the countries for as long as "the armed violence continues in Ukraine". As a result, "wood and forest products from Russia and Belarus cannot be used in FSC products or be sold as FSC-certified anywhere in the world.
Suspension of FSC and PEFC certifications will have a large impact on wood pellet and chip flows from Russia. Accreditation from either is a precondition for the sustainable biomass programme (SBP) certification required by almost all pellet and chip consumers in northwest Europe — Russia's largest market for pellets.

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Unlocking the future: EU industrial ecosystems on the path to the green and digital transition

11 February 2022

The EU Industry Days is Europe’s flagship annual event, highlighting industrial frontrunners and ongoing industrial policy discussions whilst improving the knowledge base of European industry. It is the main platform to discuss industry challenges and co-develop opportunities and policy responses in an inclusive dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders. The 2022 edition took place in hybrid format in Brussels between 8 - 11 February 2022, with stimulating discussions across industrial ecosystems on their green and digital transition, in support of strengthening the resilience of EU companies
On the 11 of February, the Woodworking industries endorsed the green growth for a climate positive economy and society in Europe! Taking part at the EU Industrial Days, the European Wood industries explained how it is possible to achieve a green and sustainable lifestyle while reducing environmental footprint, simply using wood. Supporting long-lived wood products goes hand in hand with supporting active forest management, including the production and consumption of other sustainable wood-based products such as hygiene products, paper and packaging, which are equally necessary to achieve EU carbon neutrality objectives.

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EU challenges Russian export restrictions on wood at WTO

21 January 2022

CEI-Bois has welcomed the decision by the European Commission to challenge Russia at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over its recently imposed export restrictions on wood.
In advance of these restrictions, which entered into force this month, CEI-Bois had raised Russia’s impending log export ban with the Commission via a series of communications and at a face-to-face meeting held in September 2021.
CEI-Bois stands fully behind the European Union’s support for free and fair trade, adhering to a rules-based system, therefore the Commission’s request for the WTO to facilitate discussion with Russia on this issue is a welcome first step towards hopefully resolving this dispute. 

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World of Wood Festival to highlight role of timber in creating a low-carbon future:

25 October 2021

Featuring Paul Brannen David Hopkins and Kirsten Haggart and talking about: 
- our building with wood manifesto, which focuses on European and North American forestry and timber industries, and how we can use wood to transform our built environment to create vast carbon sinks in our rural areas and carbon stores in our cities;
-  the tropical timber manifesto being launched by the global timber industry, Global Forests Need Global Governance, which sets out a new vision for tropical forests and timber;
- UK's premier competition for excellence in architecture and product design in wood.

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Architects dRMM’s Timber Beacon shortlisted for COP26

29 July 2021

dRMM are delighted that their design for a re-useable timber pavilion has been shortlisted by the British Government to exhibit at COP26 – the UN climate change talks which are due to be held in Glasgow in November 2021

Designed as a wayfinding object which tells the story of timber’s ability to outperform other building materials in terms of carbon, strength and beauty, ‘Timber Beacon’ is dRMM’s response to the collective brief of a unique global timber industry collaboration.

This collaboration is formed from a 25+ strong allegiance of innovators in engineered mass timber and wood-based products including those from a global forest growth and development context. The allegiance is led by the UK Timber Trade Federation, CEI-Bois and the European Confederation of Wood Working Industries.

More information available - HERE.

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The 69th International Softwood Conference (ISC) will be a hybrid Conference taking place in Helsinki on 13-14 October 2021

28 June 2021

The European Timber Federation (ETTF) and the European Organisation of the Sawmill Industry (EOS), together with hosting association Sahateollisuus (Finnish Sawmills Association) announce that the 69th International Softwood Conference (ISC) will take place in a hybrid form (both physical and digital) on 13-14 October 2021.

“The ongoing pandemic, the high level of uncertainty, but also the willingness to have the feel of a normal conference, pushed us to come up with this innovative format for the ISC 2021” said Kai Merivuori, Managing Director of Sahateollisuus, in agreement with EOS and ETTF.

The ISC in 2021 will be particularly interesting in view of the unprecedented market developments that have been taking place since the beginning of the pandemic. The high-level presenters at the ISC will strive to forecast how the market will move in the foreseeable future ensuring good geographical coverage and stimulating topics.

Like every year, information about the registration for the hybrid conference 2021 will be available on the website of the conference - HERE.

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¨Time to dispel the forest carbon debt illusion¨

17 June 2021

The Swedish Forest Industries organised a webinar titled ¨Time to dispel the forest carbon illusion on the 17th of June 2021. 

During the livestreamed broadcast Dr. Holmgren presented his conclusions and findings from the  new report “The forest carbon debt illusion” in which he analyses carbon flows for different levels of forest management in Sweden and how these scenarios impact the atmosphere. 

Professor Gert-Jan Nabuurs from the Wageningen University in the Netherlands also commented the report while by Mrs. Anna Holmberg and Mrs. Emma Berglund from the Swedish Forest Industries provided EU policy inputs.

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The Timber Trade Federation (TTF), CEI Bois, and the Office for Product Safety & Standards (OPSS) have come together to offer the opportunity for EU companies to exchange, learn and ask questions around UKTR

26 April 2021

Join us to learn directly from the Competent Authority for UK Timber Regulations on the expectations and requirements for due diligence under UKTR/FLEGT; share and discuss your questions and exchange your own experiences so far on exporting to the UK.

If you are an EU based timber company exporting to GB and have received requests from your UK timber importers as part of their due diligence exercise for UKTR, or if you wish to learn what the minimum requirements are from the UK enforcement body for the UKTR, you can benefit from this session.

The event is scheduled for Friday, 28 May 2021, 1130 – 1330 BST, or 1230 – 1430 CET, and will take place via Zoom.  

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On the 30 of March 2021 the wood4bauhaus Alliance was accepted and confirmed by the European Commission as an official partner of the New European Bauhaus.

02 April 2021

The European Woodworking Confederation (CEI-Bois) together with InnovaWood EU network for wood research, innovation and education, the European Panel Federation (EPF), the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW), the European Organisation of the Sawmill Industry (EOS) is a founding member of the wood4bauhaus Alliance. This European wood-based sector Alliance also has the support of the Horizon 2020 project consortia BASAJAUN and WoodCircus.

Wood4Bauhaus aims to contribute to shaping a better and sustainable future with beautiful, healthy and inclusive living spaces as part of a sustainable, low carbon-built environment. Our goal is to inspire as many actors as possible to co-create in a bottom-up approach and develop contributions to the New European Bauhaus from European to regional and local level, all in the common interest to advance and exploit as much as possible nature-based materials, innovative building systems and smart solutions for the benefit of European citizens.

Our ambition is to grow the network of supporters and contribute to forming a major hub of the sector for the New European Bauhaus. 

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The European woodworking industries, as pioneers in fighting illegal logging, offer critical perspectives on combatting deforestation driven by imported commodities

16 February 2021

Forests are our best allies in mitigating climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere: together with oceans, they act as reservoirs, storing carbon for decades and even centuries in trees and long-lived wood products. It is little wonder that deforestation is a key environmental concern worldwide, being a very serious driver of CO2 emissions and habitat loss. As stated by Commission President Von Der Leyen in the recent “One Planet” summit on biodiversity, the EU is firm in the commitment to ensure that the single market does not drive deforestation in other parts of the world via the import of deforestation-linked commodities.

One has to remember that the primary driver of deforestation is land use change: as populations grow and economies develop, forest land is being cleared for conversion to food agriculture and other crops, mining activities, urban and infrastructure development (source: FAO). Timber and timber products from sustainably managed forests are not linked to global deforestation; on the contrary, deforestation prevents the future availability of wood material, whereas forests sustainably managed and with long-term economic value stay as forests.
The European Woodworking Industries have been pioneers in fighting illegal logging and improving the legality of the production and sale of sustainable timber.

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Statement by President von der Leyen on the occasion of the New European Bauhaus goes Into the Woods event

24 November 2022

... Now let me come back to what brings us here today. Indeed, Haltia is a wooden heaven by the lake and the view is stunning. With most modern techniques, to me, it perfectly captures the spirit of your country, but also of this conference we have today, so a place where tradition and innovation go hand in hand. The building sector, which we are discussing today, accounts for one-third of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions. And buildings can produce an enormous amount of waste globally. So what we are discussing here today and what we want are buildings and cities that are becoming carbon sinks instead of emitting carbon, and thus helping us in the fight against climate change.

With the New European Bauhaus, we want to address these topics and we want to decarbonise the building sector, the building stock. We are looking for nature-based solutions, like here in Haltia, where there is obviously a plant-covered roof that soaks up carbon, that soaks up sunlight and rain water. So I am very happy that today the country is committed to contribute to a New European Bauhaus Academy for sustainable construction. The New European Bauhaus Academy will focus mainly on research and innovation and on the necessary skills that we need for the green transition, mainly in the construction sector. As a first step, we will offer online learning courses on bio-based materials in construction. And with Horizon Europe, we will call for bio-based material projects worth EUR 10 million in this research and innovation call.

I am very grateful for this excellent conference because we know that forests are our best allies to fight climate change. We have to protect them, but we also have to work with them. And therefore, all our efforts in implementing the European Green Deal are to find the right balance, to strike the right balance between the increased sourcing of natural products for construction – we need them – and the health of our forests. Forests are essential, as I said, in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss. At the same time, our forests have a huge economic value. And I am very much looking forward to my visit this afternoon to one of the biggest Finnish-Swedish forest companies. This will be fascinating to see. Because they are an excellent example for the growing awareness in the business sector that nature restoration is not only about sustainability, it is also a business strategy to maintain the sources of their business....

Full speech available here: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/statement_22_7120

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The Commission has adopted its proposal to make 2023 the European Year of Skills

24 October 2022

With the European Year of Skills, in cooperation with the European Parliament, Member States, social partners, public and private employment services, chambers of commerce and industry, education and training providers, and workers and companies all together, the Commission proposes to give a fresh impetus to lifelong learning by:
Promoting increased, and more effective and inclusive investment in training and upskilling to harness the full potential of the European workforce, and to support people in changing from one job to another.
Making sure that skills are relevant for labour market needs, by also cooperating with social partners and companies.
Matching people's aspirations and skill sets with opportunities on the job market, especially for the green and digital transition and the economic recovery. A special focus will be given to activate more people for the labour market, in particular women and young people, especially those not in education, employment or training.
Attracting people from third countries with the skills needed by the EU, including by strengthening learning opportunities and mobility and facilitating the recognition of qualifications.

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The European Commission adopted its Work Programme for 2023, setting the stage for the EU agenda for the coming year

18 October 2022

The Commission’s priorities for the next months ambitiously aim to respond to the ongoing crisis while following up on general policy orientations stated by President Ursula von der Leyen in 2019. Moreover, the new Work Programme incorporated a new “inclusive” dimension by highlighting the role of the Conference on the Future of Europe in shaping the Commission’s priority for 2023.
EU Green Deal and Circular Economy: Most of the remaining files which are part of the Circular Economy package are expected to be published already by the end of the year (including proposals on packaging and green claims). The European Commission does however intend next year to revise the bloc’s Waste framework focusing its effort on the textile and food sector.
A Europe Fit for the Digital Age: On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Single Market, the Commission plans to undertake a non-legislative initiative, to identify implementation gaps in the EU and draw up future priorities in this area. In 2023, the EU executive will take action to foster the EU companies’ uptake of digital solutions with regards to their administrative and judicial processes, which is supposed to encourage the cross-border expansion of EU firms, as well as the mobility sector, for which the EC will put forward a mobility data space communication to enable European companies to share data and boost the digitalisation of the EU cross-border delivery processes.
An Economy that Works for People: Drawing on the experiences from the Conference on the Future of Europe, the European Commission will initiate a review in the first half of 2023 of its economic governance, and of the functioning of the Union’s 7-year budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework, to ensure that it is still fit for purpose and adequate for tackling the current challenges facing the EU. Moreover, the highly publicised digital euro is set to see the light of day in the second quarter of 2023, where the Commission is expected to present its official proposal on the EU digital currency. 
Furthermore, the Commission will present a new legislative framework for corporate taxation in the latter half of 2023. The Commission intends to introduce a single set of tax rules for doing business in Europe with the aim of ensuring greater coherence for corporate taxation, and a more effective allocation of profits between EU countries by means of a formula designed for the purpose. 

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The EU Commission invited the Wood4Bauhaus Alliance to organise a side event on the occasion of the European Bioeconomy conference that will take place on 6 and 7 October in Brussels (hybrid format).

22 September 2022

On October 7, the Wood4Bauhaus Alliance, an official partner of the New European Bauhaus, will host a side event at the High-Level EU Bioeconomy Conference.

The event addresses the immense climate benefits of using more nature-based materials, such as wood and other biomaterials, in the built environment. Long-life, circular products can drastically diminish the carbon emissions of the building stock in Europe.

Four success stories of nature-based solutions contributing to a more resilient, self-sufficient European bioeconomy will be presented, and their role for the New European Bauhaus will be discussed.

The high-level conference ‘The Bioeconomy – Enabling the European Green Deal in Challenging Times’ will take place on 6 and 7 October in the Charlemagne building in Brussels. All sessions will be live streamed to allow everyone to get involved from anywhere.

For more information visit https://wood4bauhaus.eu/news/w4b-bioeconomy-conference-side-event/ 

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Member states commit to reducing gas demand by 15% next winter

26 July 2022

Member States met on the 26th of July 2022 at a Council level and reached a political agreement on a voluntary reduction of natural gas demand by 15% compared to their average consumption in the past five years, between 1 August 2022 and 31 March 2023, with measures of their own choice. 

This regulation is an exceptional and extraordinary measure, foreseen for a limited time. It will therefore apply for one year and the Commission will carry out a review to consider its extension considering the general EU gas supply situation, by May 2023.

The purpose of the gas demand reduction is to make savings ahead of winter to prepare for possible disruptions of gas supplies from Russia.

The Council regulation foresees the possibility to trigger a ‘Union alert’ on security of supply, in which case the gas demand reduction would become mandatory. The alert would be activated by a Council implementing decision, acting on a proposal from the Commission. The Commission shall present a proposal to trigger a ‘Union alert’ in case of a substantial risk of a severe gas shortage or an exceptionally high gas demand, or if five or more member states that have declared an alert at national level request the Commission to do so.
The Council has also specified some exemptions and possibilities to request a derogation from the mandatory reduction target, in order to reflect the particular situations of member states and ensure that the gas reductions are effective in increasing security of supply in the EU.

Member states that are not interconnected to other member states’ gas networks are exempted of mandatory gas reductions as they would not be able to free up significant volumes of pipeline gas to the benefit of other member states. 
Member states whose electricity grids are not synchronised with the European electricity system and are heavily reliant on gas for electricity production are also exempted, in order to avoid the risk of an electricity supply crisis.
Member states can request a derogation to adapt their demand reduction obligations if they have limited interconnections to other member states and they can show that their interconnector export capacities or their domestic LNG infrastructure are used to re-direct gas to other member states to the fullest.
Member states can also request a derogation if they have overshot their gas storage filling targets, if they are heavily dependent on gas as a feedstock for critical industries or if their gas consumption has increased by at least 8% in the past year compared to the average of the past five years.
When choosing demand reduction measures, member states agreed they should prioritise measures that do not affect protected customers such as households and essential services for the functioning of society like critical entities, healthcare and defence. 
Possible measures include reducing gas consumed in the electricity sector, measures to encourage fuel switch in industry, national awareness raising campaigns, targeted obligations to reduce heating and cooling and market-based measures such as auctioning between companies.
In addition, the European Council also agreed yesterday to renew the economic sanctions over Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine for further six months until 31 January 2023. 
 

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Commission is looking for experts to advise on carbon removals

1 July 2022

The European Commission launched a call for applications for the Expert Group on carbon removals, as announced in the Communication on Sustainable Carbon CyclesSearch for available translations of the preceding and to follow up on the Call for EvidenceSearch for available translations of the preceding for the certification of carbon removals.  

The group, consisting of about 70 experts, will assist the Commission in the preparation of policy initiatives and legislative proposals on the voluntary certification of carbon removals, which will support the European Green Deal and the EU's commitment to becoming climate neutral by 2050. This Expert Group is an opportunity to be part of the work to scale up carbon farming and foster industrial capture and storage of atmospheric carbon through innovative solutions.  
Experts will provide technical expertise and advice on:  

- Carbon removals, including carbon farming, carbon storage products, different options for permanent storage, and certification methodologies; 

- Innovative incentives and solutions to sequester carbon by farmers, foresters, and industries; or 

- The development of certificates that will ensure the robustness, transparency, and quality of carbon removals. 

For more information visit: https://ec.europa.eu/clima/news-your-voice/news/commission-looking-experts-advise-carbon-removals-2022-07-06_en

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Fit for 55 package: Council reaches general approaches relating to emissions reductions and their social impacts

29 June 2022

The member states adopted a common position on EU emissions trading system (EU ETS), effort-sharing between member states in non-ETS sectors (ESR), emissions and removals from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF), the creation of a social climate fund (SCF) and new CO2 emission performance standards for cars and vans.

These agreements pave the way for negotiations with the European Parliament.

For more information : https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2022/06/29/fit-for-55-council-reaches-general-approaches-relating-to-emissions-reductions-and-removals-and-their-social-impacts/

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MEPs and EU governments struck a provisional agreement on new reporting rules for large companies

21 June 2022

From 2024, large companies will need to publicly disclose information on the way they operate and manage social and environmental risks. The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) will make businesses more accountable by obliging them to disclose their impact on people and the planet. This aims to end greenwashing and lay the groundwork for sustainability reporting standards at global level.
The new EU sustainability reporting requirements will apply to all large companies (with over 250 employees and a 40 million euro turnover, as defined in the Accounting directive), whether listed or not. Companies will have to report on their impact on the environment, human rights, social standards and work ethics, based on common standards.
The agreement stipulates that the information companies provide on their impact on the climate or human rights will be independently audited and certified. Financial and sustainability reporting will be on an equal footing and investors will finally have access to reliable, transparent and comparable data.
MEPs successfully insisted that non-EU companies with substantial activity in the EU market (150 million euro in annual turnover in the EU) will have to follow equivalent reporting rules. Member states will supervise compliance with the help of the Commission.

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Reconstructing the Future for People and Planet

7 June 2022

EC President Ursula von der Leyen will present her global vision of the New European Bauhaus at the Bauhaus Erde conference in the Vatican on 9 June 2022 at 9:00 cest.
The Wood4Bauhaus will be represented in this high-level event by a keynote address from Prof Andreja Kutnar. Other main speakers include Prof. John Schellnhuber, Diébédo Francis Kéré, and Shigeru Ban.

For more information visit: https://www.pas.va/en/events/2022/reconstructing_the_future.html

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The war in Ukraine will tighten lumber markets both short and long term, particularly in Europe but also in China and the US

5 May 2022

One immediate impact of the war in Ukraine and the sanctions by Western countries has been a dramatic reduction in exports of forest products from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. The total exports from these three countries were valued collectively at 17 billion dollars in 2021. In addition to the sanctions, the Russian forest industry will struggle to source parts, equipment, and finance, which will force even non-sanctioning countries, such as China, to adapt to changes in trade flows. The new Focus Report, Ukrainian war fallout - disruptions in global trade of forest products, investigates the short-term and potential long-term implications of the war and its impact on worldwide shipments of lumber, panels, wood pellets, logs, wood chips, pulp, and paper products.

Softwood lumber accounted for almost half of the export value for Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine in 2021. The disruption in trade has significantly impacted global markets since the three countries accounted for nearly 25% of worldwide lumber trade last year. The halt in lumber shipments to Europe and some countries in Asia has had the most significant impact. Still, trade with non-sanctioning countries is also likely to change as Russian and Belarusian companies struggle to make financial transactions and secure credit, and their forest products are designated "conflict timber." In addition, Russian sawmills, which in the past have shipped lumber to customers in Europe, cannot quickly shift to other markets in the short term. 

More information available here: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-war-in-ukraine-will-tighten-lumber-markets-both-short-and-long-term-particularly-in-europe-but-also-in-china-and-the-us--wood-resources-international-llc-301535499.html

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Can the European Market Survive Without Russian Birch Plywood?

26 April 2022

During the last decade, Russia has become the world’s largest birch plywood producer. The product is in great demand in the global markets, including Europe. Over the years, annual imports of Russian birch plywood to Europe have been at the level of 1.5 million m3. The main consuming countries are Germany, Poland, and France, followed by the Netherlands, Finland, Italy, and others.

Russian birch plywood is widely used in construction, formwork, and transport sectors, competing mainly with the Finnish, Latvian and Polish producers. The total European birch plywood market is estimated to be around 2.2 million m3 with a domestic annual supply of 800-900 000 m3. In the light of the sanctions related to the imports of Russian goods to the European markets, discussions on whether the local market will survive without Russian birch plywood take place. Indufor looked at the European birch plywood supply opportunities through the existing production capacities, export volumes, and the prospects of substituting the product with other plywood and wood-based panels.

Read the full article by Indufor here: https://induforgroup.com/can-the-european-market-survive-without-russian-birch-plywood/

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Welcome to WoodRise 2022

19 April 2022

From 6th to 9th September 2022, Slovenia will host the most renowned globally hosted event in the field of taller wooden buildings that draws over 1000 participants from all the fields of the built environment as well as policymakers and standardisation entities. The 2022 congress is also taking place under the honorary patronage of the President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor.

The congress reflects all that the European Green Deal and the New European Bauhaus stand for. It showcases the best global practices in timber engineering and architecture with the aim to promote sustainable transformation and development of the construction sector. In 2022 the congress will furthermore intensively focus on the topic of renovation, rehabilitation, and restoration of existing urban buildings with the use of wood-based technologies.

 For more information visit: https://woodrise2022.eu/

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Wood import ban in fresh round of EU sanctions against Russia

8 April 2022

EU adopts fifth round of sanctions against Russia over its military aggression against Ukraine. In light of Russia’s continuing war of aggression against Ukraine, and the reported atrocities committed by Russian armed forces in Ukraine, the Council decided today to impose a fifth package of economic and individual sanctions against Russia. The agreed package includes a series of measures intended to reinforce pressure on the Russian government and economy, and to limit the Kremlin’s resources for the aggression.

More information : https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2022/04/08/eu-adopts-fifth-round-of-sanctions-against-russia-over-its-military-aggression-against-ukraine/

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Call for evidence – how do we set up a certification system for carbon removals in the EU

17 February 2022

This initiative will propose EU rules on certifying carbon removals. It will develop the necessary rules to monitor, report and verify the authenticity of these removals.
The aim is to expand sustainable carbon removals and encourage the use of innovative solutions to capture, recycle and store CO2 by farmers, foresters and industries. This represents a necessary and significant step towards integrating carbon removals into EU climate policies. The deadline for contributions is set for the 2nd of May 2022. 

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CEI-Bois attended the World BioEconomy Forum virtual roundtable on the topic Wood Construction – long lasting bioproducts

10 February 2022

The roundtable gathered architects and academics who showcased some examples of timber buildings across the world. Wood is the oldest construction material of the future. 
The different presentations illustrated how innovation and new technologies have helped make timber in construction stronger, more modern, more fire resistant and safer than in the past. There was a consensus that wood in construction can help cut down emissions in the construction sector. 
It was highlighted that building with wood does not only have structural and climate advantages but it also creates healthy living spaces that have positive neurological and psychological benefits for people.

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Industry associations have an important role to play in the digital transformation

08 November 2021

In March this year, the European Confederation of Woodworking Industries, CEI-Bois, initiated a pilot project together with Cobuilder to help manufacturers digitise their data and make it available in a machine-readable and standardised format. As part of the pilot project, the CEI-Bois initiative TIMBIM will create a common data dictionary and common data templates that are based on relevant harmonised product and test standards and are applied across all European countries.

We spoke with Hansueli Schmid, one of the members of the CEI-Bois workgroup that manages the TIMBIM project, to learn more about the development of the common data structures for the European timber industry.

Product information is essential for all processes in a construction project
Hansueli is a project manager at Lignum, the Association of the Swiss forest and timber economy, where he manages the Swiss wood BIM library www.lignumdata.ch. He is also a member of the steering committee of buildingSmart International Product Room that focuses specifically on the robust and efficient use of product data as part of openBIM.

Full interview available here: https://cobuilder.com/en/industry-associations-have-an-important-role-to-play-in-the-digital-transformation/ 

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CEI-Bois' Public Affairs Director Mr Brannen recently spoke at an event organised by the UK Alliance for Sustainable Building Products on the subject of ‘COP26 Glasgow: promoting wood as a key material to decarbonise the built environment’.

29 September 2021

Mr Brannen's key points were as follows.

The opportunity for the timber sector has never been bigger because you cannot decarbonise the built environment without wood.

Advocacy by the global wood industry will be focused on a manifesto, currently with the working title: Growing our low carbon future: time for timber.

The manifesto will make the climate case for wood. Explain what is new in the world of wood construction. Set out the key climate advantages of using more wood in the built environment. Policy recommendations will include insisting embodied carbon and lifecycle assessment measurements are at the heart of local and national building plans.

The manifesto will conclude, wood must be adopted more widely and utilised more efficiently in the global built environment. The potential climate impacts of using more wood are immense: they offer solutions based on available technology which simultaneously store carbon and substitute fossil resources, and thus can drastically and quickly diminish the CO2 emissions caused by the global building stock.

The manifesto will be launched twice. Once in London on the eve of the COP and then again at the COP. It will be promoted via a media advertisement, a short video and a PR stunt.

Either side of the COP a World of Wood Festival will be held in London 25th 0ctober – 3rd December featuring talks and exhibitions.Paul recently spoke at an event organised by the UK Alliance for Sustainable Building Products on the subject of ‘COP26 Glasgow: promoting wood as a key material to decarbonise the built environment’.
The full event video can be found here: Lunchtime update: Timber and bio-based materials at UN Climate Change Conferences - The Alliance for Sustainable Building Products (asbp.org.uk)
Paul’s key points were as follows.
The opportunity for the timber sector has never been bigger because you cannot decarbonise the built environment without wood.
Advocacy by the global wood industry will be focused on a manifesto, currently with the working title: Growing our low carbon future: time for timber.
The manifesto will make the climate case for wood. Explain what is new in the world of wood construction. Set out the key climate advantages of using more wood in the built environment. Policy recommendations will include insisting embodied carbon and lifecycle assessment measurements are at the heart of local and national building plans. 
The manifesto will conclude, wood must be adopted more widely and utilised more efficiently in the global built environment. The potential climate impacts of using more wood are immense: they offer solutions based on available technology which simultaneously store carbon and substitute fossil resources, and thus can drastically and quickly diminish the CO2 emissions caused by the global building stock. 
The manifesto will be launched twice. Once in London on the eve of the COP and then again at the COP. It will be promoted via a media advertisement, a short video and a PR stunt.
Either side of the COP a World of Wood Festival will be held in London 25th 0ctober – 3rd December featuring talks and exhibitions.

Full recording available HERE.

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In the latest Time for Timber podcast, Andrew Carpenter, Chief Executive of the Structural Timber Association, sat down with Paul Brannen, Director Public Affairs CEI-Bois & EOS, to discuss the most important event happening in 2021, COP26

26 July 2021

Regarding sources of carbon emissions, the construction sector is responsible for anywhere between 40 and 50 percent. During their conversation, Paul Brannen highlights that it is therefore the duty of the construction industry to reduce that figure, whilst expressing his belief that timber provides the key means in which to do this. Paul discusses what he calls the three S’s, those being sequestrate, store and substitute. As a tree grows, carbon within the atmosphere is captured within the tree itself, this process is known as carbon sequestration. Once a tree is felled and processed into building materials, the sequestered carbon remains stored within the wood. The production of building materials such as cement and steel are particularly high emitters of carbon, by substituting them with timber, the environmental impact of construction is immediately lessened. These are the core messages that Paul wishes to present to the politicians attending COP26. As he states, utilising timber within construction is low hanging fruit.

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The European Organization of the Sawmill Industry has held its Summer General Assembly amid high demand but increasing supply challenges.

24 June 2021

On June 24, the European Organization of the Sawmill Industry (EOS) held its Summer General Assembly online due to the ongoing pandemic.

The EOS Team is excited to announce the appointment of Herbert Joebstl – SVP Head of Operations Stora Enso Wood Products (Austria), as new President of EOS.

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The Slovenian Wood Industry Cluster invites you their online b2b Wood & Furniture matchmaking event on the 9 of June 2021

18 May 2021

The Event is coordinated by the Wood Industry Cluster Slovenia and Chamber of Commerce and industry of Slovenia and supported by SPIRIT Slovenia, a public agency and Ministry of Economic Development and Technology of the Republic of Slovenia – Wood Industry Directorate. 

The event will feature individual international business b2b meetings in order to find new business opportunities with innovative Slovenian wood and furniture companies and entrepreneurs.
Individual business meetings (b2b) with international participation will be organized on-line on 9th June 2021 between 12.30 and 14.00 CET on the Swapcard matchmaking platform.
If you are construction or furniture company, real estate developer, architect, interior designer, agent, retailer, wholesaler.. You are welcome to register and add your company profile via Swapcard, until 30 May 2021. The participation is free of charge for non-Slovenian companies. 
The b2b meetings will be pre-arranged and only available to registered participants on the Swapcard platform, 20 minutes each. The language of the meetings will be English or any other language agreed upon by the participants of the 1×1 meeting.

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General Assembly announcement:

CEI-Bois, the European Confederation of the Woodworking Industries will host it's June 2021 General Assembly online

19 April 2021

CEI-Bois has the pleasure to inform that the next CEI-Bois General Assembly meeting will take place on the 8th of June 2021 from 14:00-17:00 pm CET. Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic and safety measures taken by the Belgian Government, the CEI-Bois Board Members agreed to host the CEI-Bois Assembly meeting in an online format. 
Kindly notice that the CEI-Bois General Assembly is closed to the public and only members are invited to attend. Members will receive in due time a convening notice including a clear and specific description of the processes regarding the remote participation. 
The draft agenda of the General Assembly meeting will be available in due course. 

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Paul Brannen, Head of Public Affairs for CEI-Bois spoke at a meeting of the UK Parliament’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Forestry and Tree Planting: Why the UK must use more wood on the 24 of February 2021

01 March 2021

His contribution was focused on ‘Using more wood: big opportunities & bigger rewards’. He began by highlighting the need to house the world’s growing population and the danger to the climate of continuing to build predominately using the carbon intensive materials of concrete, steel, brick and block. Wood is the only building material that can substitute for these materials and it has the additional advantage of storing carbon. 
His final point was to encourage people to think about the 3S framework. Sequestration of carbon by trees (plant more!) the storage of carbon in timber (new build and renovation) and the substitution of carbon intensive materials resulting for an increased use of timber especially in construction. 

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CEI-Bois participates in Wood Be Better event on “Using wood - a decisive contribution in greening our buildings”

28 January 2021

The online webinar, organised by CEI-Bois' member Skogsindustrierna on the 28 of January 2021, focused on how the wood industry can drive the sustainability transition of the construction and renovation sector in Europe, and featured the participation of Paul Brannen, CEI-Bois Director of Public Affairs.

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