EU environment ministers this Monday (20 June) adopted the European Action Plan against wildlife trafficking, presented by the European Commission in February this year. EurActiv’s partner Journal de l’Environnement reports.
The Action Plan, which will provide the UE’s legal framework to combat wildlife trafficking until 2020, notably by placing more stringent controls on the ivory trade, also aims to “ensure that rural communities in source countries are more engaged in wildlife conservation, and that they benefit more from it”.
Training the enforcers
EU customs officers will be trained to strengthen their surveillance of hunting trophy imports, which must come from legal and sustainable sources. Eels, ivory, rhinocerous horns and living specimens of reptiles and birds are all among the top priorities of the Action Plan, and will benefit from an immediate increase in surveillance.
The second priority is to fight illegal trafficking. The EU aims to strengthen coordination between Europol and Eurojust, as well as to allocate more resources, in order to crack down on trafficking.
The 28 member states will also sreen their own regulations to reinforce the legislative arsenal that can be deployed in the fight against organised crime. From the end of this year, each capital will establish its own inter-agency working group, composed of customs officers, inspection services, police and enforcers of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
A lucrative trade
Europe also plans to improve its international cooperation “through participation in international law enforcement operations, technical assistance and targeted financial support”.
One way in which this could happen is through increased funding for developing countries to enforce trafficking rules. The EU’s Financial Action Task Force (FATF) also plans to prepare a strategy to combat the laundering of capital generated by illegal trafficking.
The EU could even make its participation in free trade agreements conditional on the inclusion of ambitious commitments to fight the trafficking of wild animals.
Behind drugs, people trafficking and counterfeit goods, wildlife trafficking is the fourth most lucrative form of organised crime. According to Interpol, activities that are illegal and harmful to the environment generate revenues of between €63.2 and €192.3 billion every year.