Reuters reports European Agriculture Ministers from 20 of the EU’s 27 Member States are demanding changes to EUDR, including a delay to the implementation.

Led by Austria’s Agriculture Minister Norbert Totschnig, the Ministers urged the “Commission for a temporary suspension of the regulation allowing for a feasible implementation accompanied by a revision of the regulation.”

This is a significant development.

If their demand for a delay does become reality, it marks a huge shift in the political dynamics around EUDR in Europe.

It is also significant that the meeting where the EUDR delay was discussed was attended by Agriculture Ministers – at the AGRIFISH meeting in the Council – not the Ministers in charge of Environment (who have typically been the ones promoting EUDR in the past).

The engagement of Agriculture Ministries around Europe suggests that EU industries and farmers are now deeply worried of the major problems that will inevitably be caused by EUDR and are actively engaging to prevent those problems from becoming a reality on January 1, 2025.

Malaysia has led the global calls for changes to and a delay of the EUDR for over a year now – including the specific dangers of the aggressive implementation deadline, and resulting supply crunches, price shocks, and harm to small farmers.

We’re glad to see Malaysia’s position garnering the significant support inside EU business and governments that it has long deserved. Global media are also taking note of the social and economic damage that could be wrought if EUDR is implemented as planned – both New York Times and Financial Times have written authoritatively about EUDR’s dangers.

The political developments in Brussels – if they do result in a delay – are unambiguously good news for EU consumers, farmers, and industries. It is also good news for producing countries, millions of developing world small farmers, and all those small businesses involved in complex commodity supply chains.

Delaying EUDR would reduce supply disruption, prevent inflation and food price rises, and support small farmers’ journey to sustainability while retaining their access to global supply chains. Overall, this is win-win-win.

Predictable Response from Environmental Lobby

The good news for European consumers, businesses, farmers, Malaysian small farmers, exporters, and others from the Global South, was predictably criticised by NGOs. In an open letter led by Mighty Earth, these environmental lobbyist groups called for EUDR to be forcibly implemented regardless of the harm to small farmers, regardless of harm to the Global South, and regardless of food price rises for vulnerable European families and communities. The taxpayer-subsided NGOs have no understanding of markets or supply chains, do not have consumer interests at heart, and seem determined to hurt, rather than help, poor farmers in the developing world.

There are nine weeks until EU Parliament elections in June: this no doubt is a factor in the shift – an EUDR trade barrier that would raise the prices of cocoa, coffee and pastries is unlikely to be popular. The political calendar nevertheless is a good opportunity for the EU Commission to act. A delay in EUDR would clearly serve the interests of European consumers and companies, and trading partners. The Commission should support those interests, and reject the self-interest of NGO lobby groups.