Written Answer to a Question: Circumvention of sanctions against Russia by third countries in the timber trade

Answer given by Ms McGuinness on behalf of the European Commission

Tackling possible sanctions circumvention attempts, including through third country jurisdictions, is among the EU’s key priorities. On 23 June 20 23, the Council adopted the 11th package of sanctions against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which focused on strengthening existing measures, and cracking down on their circumvention[1].

The Commission is dedicating significant efforts to this — from proposing legislative changes to criminalise the violation and circumvention of sanctions, to closely monitoring suspicious trade flows and organising dedicated outreach.

Ensuring that EU sanctions are not circumvented through third countries lies at the core of the mandate of the Special Envoy for the Implementation of EU Sanctions, David O’Sullivan.

EU sanctions prohibit the import of Russian timber, however the Commission is aware of possible circumvention attempts, including through Türkiye.

The implementation and enforcement of sanctions is the responsibility of Member States. As guardian of the treaties, the Commission oversees the application of Union law. It is working closely with national competent authorities, trade unions and industry players to address such circumvention risks.

Additionally, on 22 August 2023, the Commission initiated an investigation concerning alleged circumvention practices of the anti-dumping measures in force concerning birch plywood originating in Russia, by imports of birch plywood consigned from Türkiye and Kazakhstan.

The initiation of this investigation follows a duly substantiated request from European producers alleging possible transhipment and false declaration of origin for the Russian birch plywood imported to the EU via Kazakhstan and Türkiye.”

  • [1] https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_23_3429

Circumvention of sanctions against Russia by third countries in the timber trade

Priority question for written answer  P-002700/2023
to the Commission
Rule 138
Tom Vandenkendelaere (PPE)

The impact of European sanctions against Russia in response to the war in Ukraine is felt in many sectors. However, sanctions are reportedly being circumvented in specific sectors and this deserves our attention. In particular, the export of Russian timber to the EU through third countries such as Türkiye using falsified certificates of origin is a matter of concern, not least given the magnitude of this trade.

  • 1.Is the Commission aware of the non-compliance with sanctions in relation to imports of timber and timber products from Russia, in particular as regards Türkiye’s involvement?
  • 2.Does the Commission intend to take measures to better enforce its sanctions policy by, for example, engaging with the Turkish authorities to ensure that timber and timber products from Russia are not allowed illegal transit through Türkiye?
  • 3.Does the Commission intend to strengthen its cooperation with EU Member States through which such illicit trade flows are said to take place, in particular Bulgaria and Finland, with a view to ensuring a more efficient customs controls?

Submitted: 19.9.2023

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