Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) are a central element of the EU's strategy in the fight against illegal logging. A VPA is a bilateral trade agreement between the EU and a timber-exporting country outside the EU.
A VPA aims:
- to guarantee that any wood exported from a timber-producing country to the EU comes from legal sources
- to help the partner country stop illegal logging by improving forest governance and regulation
VPAs are voluntary for timber-exporting countries. However, once a VPA has entered into force, it is legally binding on both sides.
Under the VPA, the timber-producing country develops systems to verify that its timber exports are legal, and the EU agrees to accept only licensed imports from that country.