The EU aid programme, called Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT), covered 35 countries, including Indonesia, Brazil, Honduras, Cameroon, and Liberia.
According to the auditors, “the limited financial and technical support has been spread over a large number of countries, some of which were not the key ones for tackling illegal logging”.
“This diluted the support and the impact that could have been achieved,” they complained.
The Court of Auditors examined the €300m (£217m; US$335m) spent by the EU on forestry projects in 2003-2013.
Aid was poorly spent in some African countries, the report said.
EU Timber Aid
By not implementing the EU timber regulation, the report claims Greece, Hungary, Romania, and Spain sent a “negative message” to other timber-producing countries.
The value of illegal timber world-wide has been estimated at up to US$100bn annually.
The aid programme did help to make the forestry sector more trans- parent in developing countries, the report said, but “the financially most significant projects in Cameroon and Indonesia did not bring the expected results”.
Aid was poorly prioritized, said the report. Liberia was given €11.9m, while its wood exports to the EU averaged only €5m annually.
Ivory Coast, by contrast, did not receive any financial assistance, the auditors said. The EU imports on average some €166m of timber annually from Ivory Coast.