European Commission, Indonesia, and Malaysia Form Joint Task Force to Implement Deforestation Regulation

palm oil trees

The European Commission, Indonesia, and Malaysia have reached an agreement to establish a collaborative unit known as the Joint Task Force, aimed at strengthening their cooperation in implementing the European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR).

According to a joint press statement released on Thursday (29/6/2023), the inaugural meeting of the Joint Task Force is scheduled to take place in the first week of August.

This decision follows a significant mission held in late May 2023 in Brussels, Belgium, where representatives including Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Dato’ Sri Haji Fadillah, and Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Airlangga Hartarto, facilitated by the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC), engaged with European Union (EU) leaders.

During this crucial meeting, the participants expressed their concerns about the newly enacted EUDR and highlighted the vital role of commodities, particularly palm oil, in the economic growth and well-being of their respective nations, with a particular focus on the livelihoods of small-scale farmers.

The European Commission emphasized that the implementation of this policy of European Union Deforestation Regulation reflects the international community’s collective commitment. Moreover, it underscores Europe’s determination not to contribute to global deforestation through its own consumption practices.

Furthermore, the EU reassured the producer countries of their inclusion and active involvement throughout the entire process. Key figures such as EVP European Green Deal Frans Timmermans and Commissioner for Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevicius expressed their agreement on Indonesia and Malaysia’s participation in the discussions related to the EUDR’s implementation.

Following this significant milestone, Florika Fink-Hooijer, the Director-General for Environment at the European Commission, undertook an official visit to Indonesia and Malaysia from 26th to 28th June 2023. During her visit, Fink-Hooijer engaged in productive discussions with Musdhalifah Mahmud, the Deputy for Food and Agribusiness Coordination of the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, as well as with Dato’ Sri Haji Fadillah.

This visit resulted in a bilateral agreement to establish the Joint Task Force, comprising representatives from relevant governmental bodies and stakeholders from both Indonesia and Malaysia.

These representatives include commodity associations, small-scale farmers, worker associations, and civil society organizations. The primary objective of this task force is to foster enhanced dialogue concerning supply chain traceability and transparency.

The Joint Task Force will place particular focus on commodities that hold significant relevance for both countries, namely palm oil, timber, rubber, coffee, and cocoa. It is important to note that, if required, specific issues can be addressed through a tailored approach, which is inclusive, transparent, and aligned with the objectives of the Joint Task Force.

The joint press statement further outlined the next steps, stating that the Task Force will conduct a comprehensive assessment of the relevant commodity landscape in Indonesia and Malaysia within the framework of the EUDR for the EU market. To streamline communication, the three partners will designate a single point of entry, enabling prompt discussions and the development of terms of reference for the Joint Task Force.

Regarding palm oil, the CPOPC Secretariat will actively facilitate and coordinate efforts with respective officials in Indonesia and Malaysia. Collaboratively with the Directorate-General for Environment of the European Commission, they will strive to ensure progress and advancement within the Joint Task Force, ultimately aiming for mutually beneficial outcomes that contribute to the successful implementation of the regulatory measures by all parties involved.