PRESS RELEASE: EOS Summer General Assembly

Brussels, June 14th 2024

PRESS RELEASE: EOS Summer General Assembly.

The summer General Assembly of EOS, the European Organisation of the Sawmill Industry, took place in Helsinki on 12-13th June 2024, hosted by the EOS Finnish member the Finnish Sawmills Association, Sahateollisuus.  The Finnish Minister of agriculture and forestry, Sari Essayah, took part in the meeting and shared her thoughts about forest related policy at the EU level during the next five-year term. She also emphasized the key role of sawn wood products in responding to global challenges, including climate change and sustainable economic growth.

The Assembly noted the recent launch of the European woodworking and sawmill industries manifesto for the political term 2024-29, see here. The manifesto identifies eight key actions that need to be taken by decision makers to deliver a green, cost efficient, competitive and resilient EU economy.

In a lively discussion EOS Members noted important topics such as the entry into application of the “Deforestation Regulation” reiterating their concerns regarding the insurmountable difficulties and bureaucracy that SMEs will actually have to face. It was also stressed that the missing implementing act on the country benchmarking could lead to unfortunate and regrettable consequences: i.e. considering that all countries have been assigned a standard level of risk on June 29th, 2023, the efforts made by companies to comply with the obligations of the EUDR with regard to the countries that will be classified as “low risk” will be essentially pointless in the end, resulting in a disproportionate and unnecessary burden for operators and traders.

The latest edition of the EOS Annual Report – 2023/2024 – was also presented during the General Assembly and it can be freely downloaded on our website at:

The report provides the usual overview of European sawnwood markets, building on fresh data shared by the Member Countries of EOS. It also has exhaustive chapters on forests and the availability of raw materials for the European sawmill industry as well as an analysis of overseas markets of interest to the European sawmill industry, including North America and China. An extensive chapter on construction markets with a section also on statistics of wood as a building material will also help readers understand what the future holds for the European sawmill industry. While the long-term prospects of the industry look bright on the demand side, the short-term picture is not too rosy. Production and consumption of sawnwood have been declining since H2 2022 due to the challenging economy and geopolitical tensions. Costs for sawmills are high amid rising raw material prices, increasing labour costs (while also facing labour shortages) and high energy prices.

In addition the report noted that inflation rates have been declining over the last few months, but they remain high. Most sawnwood produced in Europe is used in European construction markets so as long as European construction markets are subdued, it is difficult to imagine a turnaround. Construction markets are weak also in important export markets for the sawmill industry such as China and Japan. The United States was a partial exception in 2023 and increasing sawnwood deliveries to the States have helped some European sawmills navigate this challenging environment. Trust in the long-term prospects of the industry remains high, which is proven by many companies adding production capacities over the last couple of years. However, the precondition for a successful sawmill industry remains access to sustainably managed raw materials. In this regard, policies passed in Brussels will play an increasingly important role over the next few years. The Report is also the “go-to” source to understand the European policies of interest to the European sawmill industry as well as the advocacy and promotion activities carried out by EOS over the last year.

The Assembly also noted the intention to revise the EU Bioeconomy Strategy by the end of 2025. As with the earlier revision this is both an opportunity and a threat to the sawmill industry. An opportunity if policy makers will rightly recognise that construction timber is at the heart of the bioeconomy offering the possibility of storing yet more carbon and of substituting for carbon intensive alternatives (hence it also needs to be at the heart of the circular economy which is perfectly possible given timber is a renewable, recyclable, and reusable sustainable material). But a threat if it fails to do so. In addition to the revision of the Strategy the bioeconomy will feature in several initiatives that EOS will need to engage with, using as its guide the recently produced document ‘Biomanufacturing, the circular economy and the European woodworking and sawmill industries’,

The General Assembly meeting was followed by a very interesting visit to a Koskisen sawmill plant and to a study tour on “Biodiversity and harvesting” kindly offered by Versowood.

The EOS Team is looking forward to meeting its Members and companies at the General Assembly in Taormina, Sicily on October 16th, 2024!


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