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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

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

Supporting information