With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for people fighting wildlife trafficking.
Wildlife trade is one of the most lucrative trades in the world. The legal trade into the EU alone is worth €100 billion annually, while the global illegal wildlife trade (trafficking) is worth between €8 and 20 billion annually. The trade is highly complex and its legal and illegal forms are often connected. Although wildlife trafficking is not a new phenomenon, it has worsened considerably in recent years, driven by demand for medicines, fashion, pets and food, and has now become one of the most profitable criminal activities worldwide. It has devastating effects for biodiversity (for instance where elephants and rhinos are concerned) but also for the rule of law, as it fuels corruption and can help to fund militant groups.
The EU has been engaged in the fight against wildlife trafficking for decades: it supports protected areas and funds biodiversity protection in Africa; it has strict rules to make sure that wildlife products only enter the EU if they are legal and sustainable; and it supports enforcement against wildlife crime at international level. Through development aid, the EU also helps to reduce poverty and inequalities in countries of origin, two of the root causes of wildlife crime.
In 2016, the European Union bolstered its action against wildlife trafficking: it introduced new measures to prevent trafficking (for instance by combatting the ivory trade from and within the EU), step up the fight against criminal activities linked with trafficking, and build a global alliance against wildlife crime.
- EPRS publication on ‘EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking’ http://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document.html?reference=EPRS_BRI(2016)586658
- European Commission’s Directorate General for the environment website, http://ec.europa.eu/environment/cites/