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Addressing wildlife trafficking - EU action

Addressing wildlife trafficking - EU action

Trafficking of wild fauna and flora is rapidly increasing and the European Union is a major market for such products. In 2014, the European Commission issued a paper drawing attention to the need to address the issue more effectively.


Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on the EU approach against wildlife trafficking (COM(2014) 64 final of 7.2.2014).



It appraises the current situation and assesses the EU’s measures to fight against wildlife trafficking both at global level and within the EU. It also serves to launch a debate on the EU’s future approach to wildlife trafficking.


A wide body of rules exists both at global level and within the EU to regulate the wildlife trade.

The EU has given its support to a range of initiatives against wildlife trafficking such as the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), its forest law enforcement, governance and trade action plan and timber regulation (to ensure the legal origin and traceability of timber products) and the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

These rules have not, however, prevented the recent surge in wildlife trafficking, which is driven by increasing demand and by poverty and poor governance in source countries.

Issues identified include:

  • weak or no enforcement of the rules (low political priority and insufficient resources);
  • poor awareness of the scale of the problem;
  • the involvement of organised crime, which requires the coordinated response of actors and measures.

A coordinated and comprehensive approach therefore needs to be taken to deal with both the demand and supply sides of the wildlife trafficking equation. This must involve actors in a variety of policy areas.

The paper invited interested parties to provide their views, by 10 April 2014, on aspects such as:

  • whether the EU’s current policy and legal framework is adequate;
  • whether the EU needs to develop an action plan in the field;
  • what tools at international level would improve enforcement and governance;
  • the respective roles of civil society and the private sector;
  • how to address the peace and security aspects of wildlife trafficking (given that certain conflicts are over natural resources, such as ivory and rhino horn);
  • how to help capacity building in wildlife conservation in developing countries;
  • how to improve data on wildlife crime in the EU and harness the tools used against organised crime to address wildlife trafficking.


The responses to the above questions served to assist the European Commission in its review of current EU policy and measures with a view to arming it to deal more effectively with the situation. They are summarised in a Commission staff working document. The Commission has started work on an EU action plan against wildlife trafficking.

For more information, see the European Commission’s web page on wildlife trafficking.


Commission staff working document: Summary of the responses to the stakeholder consultation on the EU approach against wildlife trafficking (SWD(2014) 347 final of 26.11.2014).

last update 20.05.2015