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European Union Further Delays Debarking Requirement
The EU has voted to delay the debarking requirement until 2009.

By Chaille Brindley
Date Posted: 3/1/2006

The European Union (EU) has voted to further delay the implementation of a debarking requirement for solid wood packaging until January 1, 2009 according to Roddie Burgess of the UK Forestry Commission. The EU has informally notified the U.S. government of its intent. Official notification should be published soon.

The EU is not abandoning its quest to include a debarking requirement in its phytosanitary standards for solid wood packing. It is just deciding to work through the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) to attempt to change the international standard (ISPM-15) versus unilaterally imposing a debarking requirement. EU officials have already delayed a debarking requirement once to allow for more scientific evidence to be obtained.

The recent vote means that people shipping solid wood packaging to the EU will not have to debark the material until the end of 2008 at the earliest.

Some involved in the process have said that it could take longer than that depending on what happens as the IPPC revises the standard and new scientific evidence on the issue is developed. As all sides seek to avoid trade disruptions while preserving plant health, a debarking requirement may never come.

"The main thing that was accomplished out of this was to get the Europeans not to act unilaterally and to work within the ISPM-15 machinery," said Tom Searles, president of the American Lumber Standard Committee. "This allows the U.S. to have a say in the

The standards committee within the IPPC is set to re-examine the international standard next year. However, there may not be concrete data to decide on a debarking requirement by the time that committee meets. Some sources close to the issue doubt that a special session would be called after the fact. Thus, another delay could loom in the distant future.

Strong objection by the U.S. helped to cause the delay. Tom said, "If you act unilaterally, you defeat the whole purpose of the international standard. This is the first time that an international standard of this type has been tried, and the EU wants the standard to work."

The U.S. government and industry has not opposed a debarking requirement if sound scientific justification can be shown for such a measure. But, the U.S. position is that what has been presented up to this point has not met those criteria.

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