Intergroup meeting: ivory trade in the EU

On 31/05/2018, in All posts, by Animal Welfare Intergroup

Today’s Intergroup meeting was dedicated to ivory trade in the EU. Elephant poaching and ivory trafficking have reached record levels and threaten the very existence of the species. EU regulations allow the sale of antique worked ivory, acquired before March 1947. But EU Member States serve both as a transit hub to smuggle illegal ivory towards other parts of the world and as a destination to sell new ivory pieces, treated to look antique or with forged permits. Measures from the European institutions and the Member States are required to support the international efforts to end the poaching of elephants.

The Intergoup meeting was chaired by Jacqueline Foster MEP (ECR – United Kingdom), Vice-President of the Intergroup, who has extensively worked on the issue of wildlife trafficking during this parliamentary term. She outlined the international and European efforts on ivory trade and stressed the challenges ahead. She explained that: “It is vital that we introduce a full ivory ban to end the demand for ivory products, protect this beautiful species and preserve the world’s diverse wildlife for future generations”. Sir David Amess MP explained the results achieved by the UK and the bill banning ivory trade which should be discussed in the British Parliament next Monday.

Catherine Bearder MEP (ALDE, UK), President for MEP4Wildlife, welcomed the strong actions taken by the UK and other Member States such as France but stressed the need for paneuropean measures. As she explained, the ivory market drives the demand. Only a ban of all ivory sales would deprive ivory from its value and efficiently put an end to the poaching of elephants. She called for the Commission to adopt and enforce a strong ban on ivory trade.

Emmanuelle Maire, Head of the Unit on Multilateral Environmental Cooperation in the Directorate-General for Environment, presented the work from the Commission on ivory trade. In November 2016, the Commission adopted an action plan on wild trafficking including 32 action points.. In regard of its internal market, the EU has been limiting it with the CITES ban on the trade of new ivory. Aware of its shortcomings, the Commission published a guidance document, calling on Member States to end the export of old raw ivory. A consultation on ivory trade was realized to gather inputs from the citizens, the civil society and the stakeholders, from September to December 2017. The Commission will announce in July its response to the consultation, to which about 90,000 EU citizens participated, as part of its review on the implementation of the EU Action Plan Against Wildlife Trafficking.

Ilaria Di Silvestre, Wildlife Programme Leader at Eurogroup for Animals, outlined why the EU actions are determinant for the fate of wild elephants. Ending the poaching of elephants will not be possible as long as legal national markets stay open. EU is currently the major exporter of legal ivory and one of the main  transit point for illegal trade. Important steps were taken but elephants are continuing to disappear at an alarming rate. She concluded: “There is no time to lose, the European Commission has to take action now: the precautionary principle enables the Commission to immediately adopt a mandatory, comprehensive EU ban on all external and domestic trade on ivory”.

The presentation were followed by a lively debate between the MEPs and the speakers. Among other topics, the social and economic issues leading to poaching, the efficient management of elephant populations and their ecological role for the survival of ecosystems were addressed.



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