Annually, international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants is estimated to be worth billions of Euro and to include hundreds of millions of plant and animal specimens. The trade is diverse, ranging from live animals and plants to products derived from them, including food products, leather goods, timber, and medicines.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), signed in 1973, aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. It accords varying degrees of protection to more than 30 000 species of animals and plants. CITES works by making international trade in specimens of selected species subject to certain controls. These include a licensing system that requires the authorization of the import and (re-)export of species covered by the Convention. The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, granting varying degrees of protection to them.
Further information on wildlife trade in the EU is available on these pages.
The information on these pages is provided by way of guidance only and is not a definite interpretation of EU Law. Only the European Court of Justice is competent to provide a definite interpretation of EU Law.
The Commission is in the process of updating some of the content on this website in the light of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. If the site contains content that does not yet reflect the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, it is unintentional and will be addressed.