European Parliament Calls for EU-Wide Ban on Ivory Trade

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By Stephen Gardner

Sept. 15 — European Union countries should ban ivory exports and limit keeping exotic species as pets, according to a resolution the European Parliament adopted Sept. 15.

In addition, the EU should explicitly forbid trade in plants and animals that are “taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of the law of the country of origin or transit,” the resolution said.

The resolution was adopted with an eye toward the 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), behing held Sept. 24-Oct. 5 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The resolution is nonbinding but offers insight into the EU position at the international talks, which will consider measures to restrict trade in endangered species.

European Parliament lawmakers adopted the resolution at a sitting in Strasbourg, France.

Closing Bloc Loophole

The resolution noted that Germany, Sweden and the U.K. ban the export of raw ivory from their territory, but the EU single market enables traders to sidestep these national bans by obtaining export certificates from other EU countries.

As for exotic pets, the European Parliament said a “positive” list of permitted species should be drawn up, “in effect banning the keeping of unlisted species.”

The EU acceded to CITES in 2015 and the South Africa conference will be the first time the EU will attend as a party. The resolution said this meant the EU would “be voting with 28 votes on issues of EU competence.”

Catherine Bearder, a British liberal member of the European Parliament, said the EU should push for greater protection for elephants and a ban on trade in ivory should be accompanied by stricter border checks and “stringent penalties against criminal groups trafficking illegal wildlife products.”

Zoos Consultation

Separately, the European Commission Sept. 15 published a call for comments through Dec. 8 on the European Union Zoos Directive (1999/22/EC), which requires EU countries to license and inspect zoos to ensure that they observe minimum conservation standards.

The commission, the EU's executive arm, said it would evaluate the directive to ensure that it is “fit for purpose,” and would publish the results of the evaluation in late 2017.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephen Gardner in Brussels at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Greg Henderson at

For More Information

The European Parliament resolution on CITES is available at .

The consultation on the Zoos Directive is available at .

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