Wildlife trafficking is not a new phenomenon, but its scale, nature and impacts have changed considerably in recent years. Poaching has reached unprecedented levels for some species, and the world is currently facing a dramatic surge in wildlife trafficking.
Wildlife trafficking has become one of the most profitable criminal activities worldwide, with devastating effects for biodiversity and negative impact on the rule of law due to its close links with corruption. Its role in financing militia and terrorist groups has been mentioned in the recently proposed EU Action Plan on the fight against terrorist financing. The EU has an important role to play in addressing this traffic, as Europe is currently a destination market, a hub for trafficking in transit to other regions, as well as, for some species, the source region for illegal trade.
On 26 February 2016, the European Commission adopted a Communication on the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking which sets out a comprehensive blueprint for joined-up efforts to fight wildlife crime inside the EU, and for strengthening the EU's role in the global fight against these illegal activities. The plan has three main strands – greater enforcement, better cooperation, and more effective prevention. The Action Plan is to be implemented jointly by the EU (Commission services, EEAS, Europol, Eurojust) and its Member States until 2020.
On 20 June 2016, the Council adopted Council conclusions on the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking endorsing the three priorities of the AP and calling for timely implementation of the relevant actions by the Commission, the High Representative, Europol, Eurojust and the EU Member States.
A large number of actions and initiatives have been taken by the EU Member States and the European Commission since the inception of the Action Plan. At the occasion of a Conference organised by the Commission on 8 February 2017 to take stock of progress made and identify next steps for the implementation of this Action Plan, the Commission services, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and Member States reported on the measures taken so far to implement the Action Plan.