22 November 2012
Cristiana Muscardini (ECR)
In June 2012, the Standing Committee of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) met in Geneva. This Convention is the international agreement under which the world sale of ivory was banned. On the agenda for the meeting was a report entitled ‘Elephant conservation, illegal killing and ivory trade’, which gave the following disastrous information: 8 575 elephants were killed between 2002 and 2011, in 27 different countries, 1 408 of which in 2011 alone, and 24.3 tonnes of ivory were intercepted in various police operations. The network of illegal ivory trafficking covers the entire African continent and the price of ivory on the black market continues to increase. It rose from EUR 120 to EUR 280 per kilo between 2002 and 2004 and has now almost reached EUR 600. Demand for ivory, currently mainly in China, followed by Thailand, is constantly growing, and supply is unable to meet it. This is a paradoxical effect of the ban on the ivory trade, which dates back to 1989. Corruption and the inadequacy of the legal systems in the countries concerned are contributing to this disaster.
1. Can the Commission say whether it is able to take any action to combat this deadly trend and this slaughter, which is presumably destined to increase?
2. Does it not agree that the controlled presence of these animals contributes to an environmental balance that is vital also for the people who live in those areas?
3. Does it not agree that a concerted effort, in cooperation with the United Nations and the governments concerned, to support the fight against the international criminal organisations that are responsible for the black market in ivory, and therefore for the current slaughter, might yield better results than those achieved so far?
4. Does it not think that any trade agreements with the countries in which these massacres are taking place should be made subject to the results they achieve in the fight against this elephant slaughter and the black market in ivory?
5. Does it have any information relating to the ivory market in the European Union, if there is one?
Answer given by Mr Potočnik on behalf of the Commission
The Commission agrees that the African elephant contributes to an environmental balance throughout the zones it inhabits, which is beneficial for the inhabitants of the region as well as the environment. The Commission is deeply concerned about the high levels reached by elephant poaching and illegal ivory trade. In 2011, it is estimated that around 100 kg of ivory was seized in the EU; most of the seized items were on transit from Africa to Asia.
To address that problem, the EU supports initiatives like:
the Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme carried out by the CITES Secretariat and administered by UNEP. It has been funded by the EU for the last decade (10 million EUR), and continues to do so with a new phase of this programme that seeks to build on the strong success, reputation and expertise that have been established over the past decade of operation of MIKE, consolidating previous investments and ensuring a high degree of continuity with the two previous phases of the programme.
the activities of the recently created International Consortium for Combating Wildlife Crime, which comprises five international organisations with expertise in law enforcement, wildlife trafficking and project management and is tasked to tackle transnational wildlife crime and various projects to enhance elephant population management, enforcement and international cooperation between range States, transit countries and countries of final destination.
The EU makes sure that its bilateral free trade agreements with third countries contain provisions on sustainable development, which would allow the EU to raise concerns and seek solutions on environmental issues such as elephant poaching and ivory trade.