The second European Union (EU) Forest Strategy responds to new challenges facing both forests and the forest-based sector which highlights the EU’s need for a policy framework ensuring coordination and coherence of forest-related policies. The objective of the present article is to analyse whether the new Strategy contributes towards horizontal policy coherence of EU forest-related policies, given its shared and exclusive competences. This is achieved by comparing European Commission and forest industry policy priorities as articulated in the Strategy and through research carried out for the recent Cumulative Cost Assessment (CCA) of forest-based industries. Results from the comparative analysis demonstrate that the Strategy does not address many EU policies and policy instruments that affect the whole forest value chain and that it clearly omits existing EU policy instrument objectives that entail significant costs for the forest-based industry. It is therefore argued that without coordinating collective EU goals and gathering strong political support, it is at best extremely difficult or at worst impossible, to achieve coherence for EU forest-related policies across the whole forest value chain. Improving coherence of Union forest-related policies will require the Strategy to address more policy areas and instruments, including clearly defined parameters of what constitutes an EU forest-related policy. These pressing needs reach beyond what the Strategy presently sets out to achieve.
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