What are the EU actions to combat wildlife crime and on the import of wild animal parts into the EU? The European Parliament has, on many occasions, denounced the illicit trafficking of wild animal parts and strives to support the protection and welfare of wild animals. The European Union seeks to protect and conserve endangered species through control of trade and movement.
Wildlife trade has been regulated at EU level since 1983, with as main legal instruments the Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein and the Commission regulations implementing it.
EP resolution on wildlife crime
On 15 January 2014, the European Parliament adopted its resolution on wildlife crime which ‘stresses that the EU is a major transit destination for illegal wildlife products such as ivory and live animals […] and is therefore in a privileged position to control this trade’. In the plenary debate prior to the adoption of the resolution, MEPs called for tougher penalties and better training of police and prosecutors to combat trophy hunting and the organised criminal killing of rhinos, elephants and other wildlife for profit. Further information can be found in the press release of 15 January 2014.
The EU and CITES
Following the Parliament’s consent on 16 December 2014, the Council of the European Union approved on 6 March 2015 the European Union’s accession to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Further information is also available in the Commission’s press release of 8 July 2015.
Parliament adopted on 15 September 2016 a resolution on the EU strategic objectives for the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES. This conference closed on 4 October 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa and EU participated for the first time as a Party. All 20 proposals put forward by the EU were adopted and all Parties (182 countries and the EU) decided to grant higher protection to a range of plants and animals that are endangered due to their legal or illegal trade.
EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking
On 26 February 2016 the European Commission adopted the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking which aims to strengthen the EU’s role in the global fight against this illegal activity. The action plan comprises 32 measures and is to be implemented jointly by the EU (Commission services, European External Action Service, Europol, Eurojust) and its Member States until 2020.
The action plan pinpoints three priorities:
- EU wide and global prevention of trafficking and reduction of supply and demand of illegal wildlife products;
- better implementation of existing rules and more efficient fight against organised crime;
- strengthening of cooperation between source, destination and transit countries.
More information is available in the Commission’s press release of 26 February 2016.
This plan should be discussed in the plenary session of November 2016, following an own-initiative report by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI). Further information is available in the EP press release of 13 October 2016.
In order to follow the latest steps of the legislative procedure, more information is available in the relevant file in the Legislative Observatory, the European Parliament’s database for monitoring the EU decision-making process, under reference 2016/2076(INI).
On the occasion of World Wildlife Day on 3 March 2015, the EU Ambassador to the United Nations made a statement calling for a strong UN resolution to combat wildlife crime. Such a resolution was adopted on 30 July 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) with a ‘high number of co-sponsors, including all EU Member States. The resolution confirms important commitments for action at national, regional and global level and acknowledges the links with good governance, regional stability, and organised crime.
The UNGA will revisit the issue on an annual basis and expects proposals from the United Nations Secretary General for future action at the next session’, as indicated in the news section on the Commission’s webpage dedicated to CITES.
The Parliament’s intergroup on the welfare and conservation of animals is working to ensure that full regard is paid to the welfare requirements of animals.
Further information is also available on the Commission’s webpage on the European Union and Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora, about the EU Approach to Combat Wildlife Trafficking.
The press release on the EU Biodiversity for Life (B4Life) flagship initiative of May 2014, which also contains a special ‘Wildlife Crisis Window’ (WCW), as well as the Latest news of the CITES webpage, might be of interest.
In September 2016, the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) published a briefing on the EU Action Plan against Wildlife. and a keysource in April 2016 Wildlife trafficking in Africa: endangered security.
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