Preparatory meeting : Why and how to regulate the exotic pet trade in the EU

24 Oct 2019
The Intergroup members gathered today for a preparatory meeting focusing on the growing trend in the EU towards trading and keeping exotic animals as pets. Europe is currently one of the main importers of exotic tropical fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The Intergroup discussed the issues related to this growing trade and the solutions available to tackle it.

David Gennep, CEO at AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection, explained the problems raised by the exotic pet trade. First, exotic animals are completely unsuitable to be kept as pets: they have complex behavioural and physiological needs that the average owner can not meet. They also represent a threat to public health and safety, since they are unpredictable wild animals and can spread diseases both to humans and to other animals. Moreover, in some cases endangered animal species end up in the exotic pet trade as a result of poaching, thereby threatening their conservation worldwide. Finally, when these exotic animals escape or are released in Europe, they can become invasive alien species, with major negative consequences for European biodiversity and placing a significant financial burden on governments.  

To tackle the extremely divergent national legislation on this issue, an EU Positive List would offer the most efficient, effective, preventive, and comprehensive solution. The list would identify the species that can be kept and traded in the EU on the basis of a comprehensive risk assessment by experts, while all non-listed animal species will automatically be prohibited. This solution has already been adopted by several Member States, such as Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. 

This list would be a precautionary instrument, dealing with the risks before they occur, ensuring better protection of animal welfare, public health, and biodiversity. As David van Gennep highlighted in the Intergroup meeting: “EU legislation protects consumers from products that can be harmful for humans, animals and the environment. Why is this not the case for exotic pets? A Positive List  has proven itself as a highly effective instrument, that is also easy to enforce, as demonstrated in the countries that already use it.”

During the last legislative term, the European Parliament called for the adoption of a Positive List system in two resolutions and events on the issue were organised in the Parliament. For this new legislative term, David Van Gennep urged MEPs to call upon the European Commission to adopt  an EU Positive List. 

The presentation was followed by a lively discussion between the Intergroup Members on the Positive List and on the  opportunities for actions in the European Parliament.

You can find more information on the meeting and watch the livestream here.