MEPs debated this evening at the European Parliament the Commission’s Action Plan against wildlife trafficking, part of the EU’s response to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The report, supported by GUE/NGL, called on the EU and member states to address wildlife crime with the greatest political urgency, addressing root causes and making implementation and enforcement more effective.

GUE/NGL MEP Stefan Eck welcomed the report as a significant step towards rescuing endangered species and boosting the fight against illegal trade in wild animals, wild animal products and rare plants, but expressed scepticism on the delayed action:

“The EU has once again failed, as these steps are far too late for countless species who have already become extinct or are about to become extinct. The political will is simply missing when it comes to wildlife and environmental conservation and when economic interests are affected.”

The German MEP questioned Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella, present in the chamber: 

“Why is the Commission against a ban on ivory trade? Why isn’t there a ban on trade in exotic wild animals or a ban on the import of animal trophies? There is no ban on trade in bluefin tuna or on many other endangered marine species.”

“Commissioner Vella, if no strict laws are enforced following this report, your children and grandchildren will see many of these animals and plants only in books and documentaries. It is up to you to prevent this result.”

Dutch MEP Anja Hazekamp pointed out the role of Europe, as a major destination for illegal wildlife products, as well as a transit and often source point for wildlife trafficking:

“Wildlife crime is a serious threat to biodiversity and to world stability. Moreover, wildlife crime is a threat to animals as sentient beings.”  

“Illegal trade concerns more than ivory, horns and tiger skins. Millions of animals are traded live in Europe – legally and illegally – with the Netherlands at the centre of this ruthless business.”

“Illegal trade in animals is closely intertwined with the legal trade in animals, as it uses the same routes. The legal trade in wild animals should therefore not be encouraged.”

GUE/NGL MEP Kostas Chrysogonos, author of an opinion on the report in the Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI), called wildlife trafficking “a heinous crime against biodiversity”:

“The organised smuggling of wildlife, valued at EUR 20 billion per year, is contributing to the progressive desertification of the planet and therefore should be treated in the most rigorous manner. Further cooperation is needed between countries of origin, destination and transit.”

“The European Union action plan to combat illegal trafficking in wild species is a step in the right direction. Humanity must realise that it is just a part of nature, not the owner of it, and behave accordingly,” the Greek MEP concluded.

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