The European Union became a Party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) on 8 July 2015.
The basis for the EU accession to CITES is Council Decision (EU) 2015/451, which was adopted on 6 March 2015 and published in the Official Journal L 75 of 19 March 2015.
The accession to CITES will strengthen the role of the EU as global actor in the environment and trade areas. Jointly, the EU and CITES will be able to develop a more effective response against wildlife trafficking.
Why is the EU joining CITES now?
The initial text of the CITES Convention signed in 1973 foresaw that only States could be Parties to it. This has changed with the entry into force of an amendment in November 2013 which allows regional economic integration organisation to join CITES. On that basis, the Council approved on 6 March 2015 the EU accession to CITES, after the European Parliament gave its consent on 16 December 2014.
What will the EU accession to CITES change in practice for the representation of the EU at CITES Conferences of Parties (CoPs)?
All EU Member States are Parties to CITES, and, even before the EU joined as a Party, EU Member States spoke with one common position at CITES meetings. After the EU accession, common positions for CITES CoPs will continue to be decided with EU Member States, through a Council Decision. Building on the existing good cooperation with EU Member States, the EU accession will reinforce visibility and accountability of the EU as the EU will be speaking at CITES CoPs on issues of EU competence. In case of vote, the EU will cast 28 votes on issues falling under EU competence.
How is CITES implemented in the EU?The CITES Convention has been implemented into EU law since 1984 through a set of Regulations. In a number of instances, EU law goes beyond CITES requirements.