MEPs call for ivory trade ban, penalties against wildlife trafficking


European Parliament.

Date Published

MEPs advocate a full and immediate EU-wide ban on ivory and rhinoceros horn trade, and call for common sanctions at EU level against wildlife trafficking, in a resolution voted on Thursday. Wildlife trafficking is worth an estimated €20 billion annually. It has grown in recent years, becoming one of the biggest and most profitable forms of organised cross-border crime.

“Wildlife trafficking is the fourth biggest organised criminal activity on the planet. It is high time we got really serious about it”, said rapporteur Catherine Bearder (ALDE, UK). Her report sets out Parliament’s response to an EU action plan presented by the European Commission.

“The penalties against wildlife trafficking must be very severe to reflect the seriousness of this crime and must be the same across the EU”, she added.

MEPs call for a full and immediate ban at EU level on trade, export or re-export of ivory and rhinoceros horns. They also urge the EU member states to set appropriate levels of penalties for wildlife crime offences, and call on the Commission to work towards establishing common rules for defining criminal offences and sanctions relating to wildlife trafficking.

The EU should also review existing legislation to ban any making available and placing on the market, transport, acquisition and possession of wildlife that has been illegally harvested or traded in third countries, MEPs say.

Since trophy hunting has contributed to large-scale declines in certain species, MEPs urge the EU to establish a precautionary approach to dealing with imports of hunting trophies from species protected under the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations.

Financing militias and terrorist groups

MEPs note that wildlife crime is linked to other forms of organised crime, such as money laundering and the financing of militias and terrorist groups. They urge EU member states to use all relevant instruments, including cooperation with the financial sector, to reveal these links.

Global internet trade

MEPs call on EU leaders to engage with the operators of social media platforms, search engines and e-commerce platforms and step up checks to stop illegal internet trade in wildlife.

The resolution was passed by 567 votes to 5, with 39 abstentions.

Note to editors

The EU Action Plan presented by the Commission lists a series of measures to be taken by EU institutions and/or member states. The measures are essentially designed to improve cooperation among all the players concerned, make more effective use of existing tools and policies, and strengthen synergies between them, so that wildlife trafficking can be better tackled across the EU and globally.