Blueprint for the EU forest-based industries
The 2013 Blueprint accompanying the new EU Forest Strategy and the associated Staff Working Document underlines that the industry has to address a number of challenges to remain competitive:
- Stimulating growth for forest-based products in EU and non-EU markets.
- Resource and energy efficiency – apart from innovation and maintaining their productivity, the EU Forest-based Industries can compensate for their globally high production costs by using resources and energy in the most efficient way possible. One example is to further develop the 'cascade' principle, which should allow the EU to use its limited wood supplies more efficiently in the face of growing demand from the bio-economy and bio-energy.
- Raw materials - a quarter of EU forests face legal and owners’ limitations which makes mobilising more fresh wood increasingly difficult and costly. Much of the wood imported to the EU is taxed before export, while increasing amounts of EU sawlogs are exported to competitors at the same time.
- Better logistics are needed for raw material supply and product delivery.
- Structural adaptation the industry has many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and micro enterprises that need to cooperate across their value chains to achieve greater efficiency.
- Innovation and RTD - new products are needed to meet changing societal demands. These require new processes and business models such as in bio-refineries.
- Education and skills, the ageing workforce - without re-training the workforce, technological improvement can’t be harnessed. A shortage of young entrants into the industry means that existing skills are not being passed on from an ageing workforce. In all four Forest-based Industries sub-sectors, there is a mismatch between the knowledge delivered by education and the know-how and skills industries need.
- Coherence of EU legislation – it is important to ensure coherence and consistency in EU legislation to provide a predictable environment for businesses. However, some policy or legislative elements may overlap or have conflicting goals or effects. They may also add costs.
- Implementing EU Climate Policy after 2030 – with increased greenhouse gas savings targets and renewable energy targets, demand for wood biomass may increase and wood-based products will need to be able to demonstrate their carbon storage potential.
- International competition, trade, and cooperation - in a global economy, competing low-cost producers of wood-based products will increasingly penetrate EU markets. It will be essential to focus on increasingly sophisticated, higher-value wood-based products for EU and non-EU markets. Cooperation dialogues can assist in this.
- Information, communications, and image - better information is need within the Forest-based Industries and between them and other sectors. Based on this, a better image of the sector could be projected.
Actions to address the challenges
The Forest Strategy and the Blueprint identify various activities to address challenges identified by the Commission, EU countries, and the industries themselves for the timeframe 2014-2020. Ongoing activities include:
- examining the opportunity of improving information on furniture products
- conducting a cumulative cost assessment of EU legislation and policies affecting the sector. This will be done under COSME during 2015 and will link to the review of the EU Timber Regulation
- improving the understanding of the cascading use of wood, identification of barriers to its functioning, and good practices and measures to overcome them (CASCADES study (2016))
- facilitating the increased sustainable wood mobilisation.
The list of activities for the work programme 2014-16 will be developed based on the Blueprint.
Expert group on forest-based industries and sector-related Issues
This new Expert Group (56 kB) brings together EU-level representatives of the Forest-based Industries, civil society, and national authorities. The Expert Group succeeds the Former Advisory Committee on Forest-based Industries that last met in 2012. The group is chaired by the Commission and has the following tasks:
- providing the Commission with expert advice for the development, implementation, and monitoring of EU policy and legislation affecting the sector
- establishing cooperation between sectorial bodies, EU countries, and the Commission
- exchanging experiences and good practices within the forest-based industries sector
The Expert Group had its first meeting on 21 November 2014. Summary (542 kB)
The group had its second meeting on 20 April 2016. Summary and meeting documents
- Study on the Optimised Cascading Use of Wood (2016) (en) + Executive Summary (en-fr)
- A Blueprint for the EU Forest-based Industries
- Communication on a new EU Forest Strategy: for forests and the forest-based sector
- A new EU Forest Strategy: for forests and the forest-based sector
- Study on the Wood Raw Material Supply and Demand for the EU Wood-processing Industries (Indufor) - Part 1 (7 MB) - Part 2 (5 MB) - December 2013
The Communication on Innovative and Sustainable Forest-based Industries in the EU was adopted on 27 February 2008. It addresses the challenges these industries face in the form of a 19-point action plan.
The challenges faced by the forest-based industries include innovation, increased global competition, access to third-country markets, climate change and high energy and transport costs. Moreover, the access and availability of both virgin and recovered raw material at competitive prices and the strategic role of these industries in limiting the impacts of climate change are issues that need to be addressed specifically. The SME dimension is especially relevant, in particular in the woodworking and printing sectors.
The Commission is proposing major policy guidelines which lay the foundations for a coherent approach towards strengthening the competitive position of forest-based industries in Europe, while incorporating climate change objectives into the industrial strategy.
The proposals have been subject to a public consultation and reviewed by the Advisory Committee on Community Policy regarding Forestry and Forest-based industries.
Implementation of the action plan 'innovative and sustainable forest-based industries'
Collaboration with stakeholders and EU countries on the implementation of the actions will be channelled mainly through the Advisory Committee on Community Policy regarding Forestry and Forest-based Industries.
- Communication on the State of the competitiveness of the EU forest-based and related industries
- Evaluation of European forest-based industry policy from 1999
- Decision 97/837/EC establishing the Advisory Committee on Community Policy regarding Forestry and Forest-based Industries
- Study on the competitiveness of the European graphic industry: prospects for the EU printing sector to respond to its structural and technological challenges (2007) and Summary (184 kB)
- Perception of the wood-based industries - Qualitative study
- Report on the role of forest products for climate change mitigation (102 kB) - Annex of the report (842 kB).