08 November 2015

Wildlife Crime and CITES Enforcement: Agenda and list of speakers

A little update for those interested in this event: 

CITES Enforcement and Wildlife Crime

The Agenda has been set up.

Hosted by: MEP Benedek Jávor and MEP Pavel Poc 

Mediator: Daniel Turner, Born Free Foundation  

13:00 - MEP Benedek Jávor 

13:05 - MEP Pavel Poc - video message 
13:10 - Jorge RiosChief, Sustainable Livelihoods Unit and Coordinator of the Global Wildlife and Forest Crime Programme, UNODC - global perspective 
13:20 - Werner Gowitzke, Europol - European perspective
13:30 - Member States: Czech Republic, Hungary TBC and Slovakia 
14:00 - European Commission (DG HOME and DG ENVIRONMENT
14:10 - Pauline Verheij, Wildlife Justice Commission 
14:20 - Debate 
14:50 - Closing remarks, Representative from the IUCN

In light of this event, below you will find a short introduction to the European Union and its Wildlife Regulations.

The origin of the European Union (EU) is to be found in the will of ending the frequent and bloody wars between neighbours in Europe, with its highest peak in the Second World War. In 1950 Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands began uniting economically by joining certain energy sectors (coal and steel).

 The biggest achievement in integration came later on in 1993 with the Single Market, which represented the establishment of the 'four freedoms' of movement: goods, services, people and money, and the abolishment of internal border controls. It is important to stress that thanks to the Single Market, there are no customs duties at the EU Customs Union's internal borders. All goods circulate freely within the EU Customs Union, whether they are made in the EU or imported from outside. This also implies the need to reinforce external border controls and to define a single set of common rules that govern external border checks and apply a uniform system for handling goods.

Nowadays, 28 Member States benefit from the so-called Internal Market at different levels.

Today, the EU is at the centre of global trade and is the number one trading partner for the United States, China and Russia. EU customs handle 17% of world trade, over 2 billion tonnes of goods a year worth 3300 billion EUR. In 2013, the EU share in imported goods was 16%, right after the U.S (16, 2%). China amounted for 12% (Source: European Commission 2013).

In terms of wildlife trafficking, according to the 2013 Environmental Crime Threat Assessment produced by EUROPOL the EU remains one of the main important markets as a destination as well as a source region. This attracts highly specialised organised crime groups typically small in size and formed normally by EU nationals but exclusively focused on the trafficking of endangered species. The majority of CITES species reaching the EU come from Asia and Africa. Species can be birds, mammals, reptiles and invertebrates. Special mention is made to the illegal traffic in rhino horn and ivory either stolen within the EU or smuggled from their range state. Timber is also mentioned as raising concern, being Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany the countries considered as main entry points. (Source: EUROPOL 2013).

It is necessary to underline that once the illegal specimens have crossed an EU border without being detected, it is much more difficult for the national enforcement authorities to control their trade. According to one source from the Spanish CITES M.A, experience is showing that the EU is becoming a big hub for illegal trade of Annex B specimens of Regulation 338/97 through the use of captive breeding premises and certificates, since there is a general lack of internal controls on trade and captive breeding activities. 

The fact that goods could be moved freely within the internal borders of the Union forced the uniform implementation of CITES in all EU Member States. Whereas 2 of the EU Basic Wildlife Regulation explains it as follows:

the abolition of controls at internal borders resulting from the Single Market necessitates the adoption of stricter trade control measures at the Community's external borders, with documents and goods being checked at the customs office at the border where they are introduced’.

Therefore as from 1997 the EU implemented (and went beyond) the CITES Convention through a set of Regulations known as the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations:

-        The Basic Regulation: Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein which covers the species listed in four Annexes from A to D. To implement listing decisions of the Conference of the Parties, the Annexes of this Regulation change as necessary;

-        The Implementing Regulation: Commission Regulation (EC) No 865/2006 (as amended by Commission Regulation (EC) No100/2008, Commission Regulation (EU) No 791/2012, Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 792/2012) and Commission Regulation (EU) 2015/56 of 15 January 2015 laying down detailed rules concerning the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 and addressing practical aspects of its implementation;

-        The Permit Regulation: Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 792/2012 of 23 August 2012 laying down rules for the design of permits, certificates and other documents provided for in Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating the trade therein and amending Regulation (EC) No 865/2006;

-        The Suspensions Regulation, in place to suspend the introduction into the EU of particular species from certain countries. The most recent Regulation is Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 888/2014 of 14 August 2014 prohibiting the introduction into the Union of specimens of certain species of wild fauna and flora;

-        Commission Recommendation No 2007/425/EC identifying a set of actions for the enforcement of Regulation (EC) No 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein, commonly referred to as the ‘EU Enforcement Action Plan’, specifies further the measures that should be taken for enforcement of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations.

These Regulations are directly applicable in all EU Member States, however, the necessary enforcement provisions must be transferred into each Member State legislation and supplemented with national laws, because these matters pertain to the national sovereignty of each Member State, which must ensure that infractions are punished in an appropriate manner (European Commission 2015).

In practice, each Member State will have a set of legislation where the above mentioned basic instruments are reflected as well as their own enforcement measures, which vary from one country to the other.

In addition, the European Commission adopted a Communication in February 2014 and launched a stakeholder consultation on the future EU approach to wildlife trafficking followed by an Expert Conference and dedicated Workshops in April 2014 to discuss alternatives to make the EU support against wildlife trafficking at global level more effective. On that basis, the European Commission  will review the existing policies and measures at EU level so as to enable the EU to react more effectively to the current crisis situation. 

In this link you will find the Roadmap for an EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking, published in August 2015. 

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