Having already given a detailed position before the petition was launched on this, let me again make it clear. The European Commission position is the following:
- International trade in ivory is currently banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Unlike the petition seems to suggest, the European Commission strongly supports a continuation of this ban. It is precisely for this reason that the European Commission is opposed to the proposals tabled by some Parties at the next CITES meeting in September 2016 (CITES CoP17) to resume international ivory trade.
- Several African countries have tabled - often conflicting - proposals for consideration at CITES CoP17 in relation to elephants and ivory. To make progress towards the goal that we all share, the European Commission again encourages African countries to come to a common position on the best way to ensure the survival of the African elephant, in line with the African elephant action plan.
- All CITES Parties have agreed on scientific criteria which need to be fulfilled to justify the transfer of animal and plant species to CITES Appendix I. It is of primary importance for the credibility of the CITES Convention that these scientific criteria are adhered to. In the case of the elephant populations from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, our assessment is that these criteria are not met. This clear view is shared by respected international conservation organizations IUCN, WWF and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
- The EU and its Member States have proven themselves to be fully committed to working with African countries to improve wildlife conservation and to really crack down on wildlife trafficking.
A strengthened partnership with source countries is also one of the three pillars of the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking. We see the upcoming CITES meeting as a crucial opportunity to reinforce the fight against wildlife trafficking. The EU has tabled ambitious proposals and will support strong actions which have a direct impact on elephant poaching and ivory trafficking (stepping up enforcement, addressing corruption, supporting local communities and reducing the demand for illegal wildlife products), in particular through the National Ivory Action Plans.
The European Commission communicated this information, as well as my post on this issue, to Avaaz before the launch of their petition, but it was unfortunately not communicated to the petitioners. I hope that this information will clarify that the EU is leading the fight for the survival of the African elephant, is proud of this fact, and will strongly resist any attempts that give any other impression.