The EU Action Plan for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) proposes the development of a FLEGT licensing scheme to ensure that only legally harvested timber is imported into the EU from countries participating in the scheme. Under the licensing scheme, certain timber products exported from a partner country and entering the EU at any customs point designated for release for free circulation should be covered by a licence issued by the partner country, stating that the timber products have been produced from domestic timber that was legally harvested or from timber that was legally imported into a partner country in accordance with national laws as set out in the respective Partnership Agreement. A number of countries (Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Ghana, Liberia, the Republic of Congo and Indonesia) have signed Partnership Agreements, while others are still conducting negotiations with the EU (the Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Laos, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Guyana and Honduras).
The Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry and Food is competent for the implementation of the legislation, whereas customs authorities are competent for receiving, accepting and verifying FLEGT licenses. Imports into the EU of timber products exported from partner countries are prohibited unless the shipment is covered by a FLEGT licence. Customs authorities verify whether a shipment is covered by a valid FLEGT licence prior to releasing that shipment for free circulation in the EU. Customs authorities may detain timber products if they have a reason to believe that the licence may not be valid and ask the authorities competent for granting licences to perform verification and provide additional information as provided for in Partnership Agreements. Where a shipment is not covered by the required licence or where the licence is not adequate, the shipment must not be released for free circulation.