Elephant in National park of Kenya        
MEPs call for a full trade ban of elephant ivory within and outside the EU. ©AP Images/European Union-EP 

Recommendations on how to make better use the EU’s trade tools to fight an unprecedented surge in wildlife trafficking were approved by MEPs on Thursday.

An ecological crisis is being fuelled by illegal trade in plants and animals, for which and the EU and US remain key markets and transit routes, MEPs point out in a non-binding resolution passed by 579 votes to 15, with 20 abstentions.


“Illegal trade in wildlife is a crime with complex roots and wide dimensions that threatens our ecosystems, and good governance. We must do all we can to tackle this illegal activity and to ensure that future generations will not be deprived of the beauty and diversity of our environment”, rapporteur Emma McClarkin (ECR, UK) said before the vote.


“My report stresses the importance and need to use trade policy to address this problem, through a comprehensive approach that tackles supply-side issues, and demand in domestic markets and other destination countries”, she added.


MEPs call on the EU and its member states to consider a full ban on trade in elephant ivory within and outside the EU. They note that the EU should make better use of its own legal framework to protect nature and recommend, inter alia:


  • providing more help to third country customs authorities with capacity building, training and information,
  • making sufficient resources available for combatting such crimes in the EU,
  • ensuring the private sector’s involvement, including the engagement of online marketplaces, express delivery services and social media and remedying vulnerabilities in transportation and customs procedures,
  • using the EU’s common commercial policy to promote binding corporate social responsibility standards,
  • including anti-corruption provisions in all EU future free trade agreements, given that bribery is a key enabler of illegal trade,
  • using the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, which includes a detailed trade and sustainable development chapter, as an example for future trade agreements, and
  • exploring how global trade and environmental regimes (e.g. World Trade Organisation and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) can better support each other.

Background:


Wildlife trafficking is the second most serious threat to global flora and fauna following the destruction of habitats. It is the fourth most profitable area of criminal activity globally, with an estimated annual turnover of €20 billion, which also helps to fuel conflicts and the financing of terrorist networks.

 

Online wildlife crime poses a growing threat to elephants, rhinos, amphibians, reptiles and birds. Parliament is reflecting on the Commission’s “EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking” and its new comprehensive trade strategy “Trade for All – Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy”.

Illegal trade in wildlife is a crime with complex roots and wide dimensions that threatens our ecosystems, and good governance.

Emma McClarkin (ECR, UK) rapporteur 

EUR 20 billion  ; The estimated annual turnover of illegal wildlife trafficking is EUR 20 billion.

Facts 
  • Wildlife trafficking represents the second most serious threat to global flora and fauna following the destruction of habitats.