Skip to main content
Green Business

Benchmarking and partnerships

What is country benchmarking? 

A benchmarking system operated by the Commission will classify countries, or parts thereof, in three categories (high, standard and low risk) according to the level of risk of producing in such countries commodities that are not deforestation-free.

The criteria for the identification of the risk status of countries or parts thereof are defined in Article 29 of the Regulation. Article 29 (2) mandates the Commission to develop a system and publish the list of countries, or parts thereof, no later than 18 months after the entry into force of the Regulation when the main obligations of the Regulation kick in. It will be based on an objective and transparent assessment analysis of quantitative and qualitative criteria, taking into account the latest scientific evidence, internationally recognised sources, and information verified on the ground.

What is the methodology? 

The methodology is currently being developed by the Commission and will be presented in future meetings of the Multi-Stakeholder Deforestation Platform and other relevant meetings.

How can stakeholders contribute? 

How can producer countries and other stakeholders feed into the benchmarking process, and how will information supplied by producer countries and other stakeholders be evaluated, verified and utilised?

The Commission is required under Article 29(5) to engage in a specific dialogue with all countries that are, or risk to be classified as, high risk, with the objective to reduce their level of risk. This dialogue will be an opportunity for partner countries to provide additional relevant information and work in close contact with the EU ahead of the finalisation of the classification.

Can countries share relevant data with the Commission?  

Can countries share data that they consider relevant to the implementation of this Regulation (such as data on deforestation and forest degradation rates) with the Commission? If so, can they do so outside of the specific dialogue framework foreseen in Article 29(5)?

While this Regulation does not place any obligation on third countries to share relevant data with the EU, countries that wish to share such data with the EU are welcome to do so at any stage from the entry into force of the Regulation. They can do so regardless of whether the country is engaged in a specific dialogue with the EU, for instance under Article 29(5) of this Regulation on benchmarking or in a different context.

Will legality risks be considered?

Will the benchmarking take into account legality risks as well as deforestation and forest degradation? How will the legislation and forest policies of producer countries, particularly regarding 'legal deforestation', be assessed/taken into account during the benchmarking process?

The list of criteria is described in Article 29 of the Regulation. The assessment of the Commission will be based on an objective and transparent assessment analysis, based on the criteria defined in Article 29 (3) and 29 (4) of the Regulation. The relevant quantitative criteria are: (a) rate of deforestation and forest degradation, (b) rate of expansion of agriculture land for relevant commodities, and (c) production trends of relevant commodities and of relevant products.

As envisaged in the Regulation, the assessment may also take into account other criteria including (a) information supplied by governments and third parties (NGOs, industry); (b) agreements and other instruments between the country concerned and the Union and/or its Member States that address deforestation and forest degradation; (c) the existence of national laws to fight deforestation and forest degradation and their enforcement; (d) the availability of transparent data in the country; (e) if applicable, the existence, compliance with, or effective enforcement of laws protecting the rights of indigenous peoples; (and (g) international sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council or the Council of the European Union on imports or exports of the relevant commodities and relevant products; etc.

What support is provided for producer countries and smallholders?

How are producer countries and smallholders being supported to produce products in compliance with the Regulation? How can we ensure that smallholders are not excluded from supply chains?

The EU and its Member states are stepping up engagement with partner countries, consumer and producer countries alike, to jointly address deforestation and forest degradation through a global Team Europe Initiative on Deforestation-free Value Chains. Partnerships and cooperation mechanisms under the TEI will support countries to address deforestation and forest degradation where a specific need has been detected, and where there is a demand to cooperate - for instance, to help smallholders and companies in ensuring working with only deforestation-free supply chains. The Commission has entered already in projects to disseminate information, raise awareness, and address technical questions through workshops for smallholders in the most affected third countries.

See more on opportunities for smallholders in the EUDR

What are the different elements of the Team Europe initiative?

What is the interplay between the different elements of the TEI initiative: the hub,  the Sustainable Agriculture for Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) project, FPI projects and facilities planned in this context, but also those relevant in the broader context, for example at regional level? How will duplications be avoided?

This Team Europe Initiative (TEI) Hub (short: “Zero Deforestation Hub”) will provide information and outreach to partner countries on deforestation-free value chains and will conduct knowledge-management to coordinate relevant pre-existing projects from EU and Member States, with upcoming activities dedicated to the goals of the TEI. This will ensure that different Team Europe activities on deforestation-free value chains in producing countries can be better aligned, gaps identified, and redundancies avoided.

The Sustainable Agriculture for Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) project is the most important pillar on the cooperation side of the TEI. SAFE is currently being implemented in Brazil, Ecuador, Indonesia and Zambia. Further country components will be added in Vietnam and DRC in 2024. The SAFE project will be further scaled up to cover more countries through upcoming financial contributions from Member States.

The Technical Facility on Deforestation-free Value Chains will be a flexible and on-demand instrument to assist producing countries with expertise on technical requirements, such as geolocalization, land-use mapping and traceability, with a particular focus on smallholders. These activities will be closely coordinated with EU Delegations and aligned with pre-existing projects as well as SAFE, in order to create synergies and avoid duplications.

How does the Team Europe initiative relate to the CSDDD?

In view of the ongoing legislative process on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), the TEI Hub will be working closely together with the upcoming EU Helpdesk on CSDDD, in particular with regards to agricultural value chains and smallholders which will be affected by both EUDR and CSDDD.

How can we mitigate the risk of false 'high risk' benchmarking?  

How can we mitigate the risk of operators avoiding certain supply chains or certain producer countries/regions that are benchmarked as 'high risk'?

Operators sourcing from standard and high risk countries or parts of countries are subject to the same  standard  due diligence obligations. The only difference is that shipments from high-risk countries will be subject to enhanced scrutiny from competent authorities (9% of operators sourcing from high-risk areas). In that sense, drastic changes of supply chains are not warranted or expected. Furthermore, high risk classification will entail a specific dialogue with the Commission to address jointly the root causes of deforestation and forest degradation, and with the objective to reduce their level of risk.

How will the EU ensure transparency? 

The process leading to the benchmarking system will be transparent. Regular updates and consultations on the benchmarking methodology will take place in the Multi-stakeholder Platform on deforestation, where many third countries take part, alongside with the 27 EU member states. The Commission will provide updates on the  approach followed and the  methodology used. 

Furthermore, as per its obligations under the Regulation, the Commission will engage in a specific dialogue with all countries that are, or risk to be classified as high risk (prior to making the classification), with the objective to reduce their level of risk.’ This will ensure there will be no sudden announcement of risk status and will allow for more in-depth discussions. This dialogue will provide an opportunity for producer countries to provide additional relevant information.