Due to the European Single Market and the absence of systematic border controls within the EU, the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) have to be implemented uniformly in all EU Member States. CITES is implemented in the EU through a set of Regulations known as the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations. Currently these are Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein (the Basic Regulation), Commission Regulation (EC) No 865/2006 (as amended by Commission Regulation (EC) No 100/2008, Commission Regulation (EU) No 791/2012 and Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 792/2012) laying down detailed rules concerning the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 (the Implementing Regulation), and Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 792/2012 of 23 August 2012 laying down rules for the design of permits, certificates and other documents provided for in Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating the trade therein and amending Regulation (EC) No 865/2006 (the Permit Regulation). In addition, a Suspension Regulation is in place to suspend the introduction into the EU of particular species from certain countries.
In addition to this core legislation, a Commission Recommendation to Member States (Commission Recommendation No 2007/425/EC identifying a set of actions for the enforcement of Regulation (EC) No 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein, commonly referred to as the ‘EU Enforcement Action Plan’) specifies further the measures that should be taken for enforcement of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations.
Although the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations are directly applicable in all EU Member States, the necessary enforcement provisions must be transferred into national legislation and supplemented with national laws, as these are matters that remain under the sovereignty of each Member State. Member States must ensure that infractions are punished in an appropriate manner.
Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 deals with the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein. It lays down the provisions for import, export and re-export as well as internal EU trade in specimens of species listed in its four Annexes. It provides for procedures and documents required for such trade (import and export permits, re-export certificates, import notifications and internal trade certificates) and it regulates the movement of live specimens. It also sets out specific requirements for Member States to ensure compliance with the Regulation and to impose adequate sanctions for infringements.
The Regulation also establishes a number of bodies at EU level, i.e. the Committee on Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora, the Scientific Review Group and the Enforcement Group, all of which consist of representatives of the Member States and are convened and chaired by the European Commission.
Species Listed in the Annexes to Council Regulation No 338/97
Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 covers species listed in its four Annexes:
Annex A includes:
Annex B includes:
Annex C includes:
Amendments to the Annexes of the Basic Regulation
Whenever the list of species listed in the Annexes to Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 changes, e.g. in order to implement listing decisions of the Conference of the Parties, this is done through a Commission Regulation.
Nomenclature: for Amphibian species listed unilaterally by the European Union in the Annexes of Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97, and therefore not covered by the Taxonomic Checklist of CITES-listed Amphibians, a Taxonomic Checklist of Amphibian Species not included in the CITES Appendices is available.
Commission Regulation (EC) No 865/2006 lays down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 and addresses practical aspects of its implementation. It also implements the bulk of currently applicable recommendations of the Conference of the Parties on the interpretation and implementation of CITES provisions.
It defines additional rules for the issue, validity and use of documents needed for the import, export, re-export and internal EU trade of specimens of species listed in the four Annexes to the Basic Regulation. The standard model forms that must be used for permits, certificates, notifications and applications for these documents, as well as labels for scientific specimens, are contained in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 792/2012.
Other subjects covered by this Regulation include provisions for animals born and bred in captivity, artificially propagated plants, personal and household effects and for the marking and labelling of certain specimens.
Commission Regulation (EC) No 865/2006 is regularly amended. The latest amendment was adopted on 16 December 2021 (2021/2280).
Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 provides the Commission with the possibility to restrict the introduction of species into the European Union. This is done after consultation with the countries of origin concerned and taking into account any opinion of the Scientific Review Group (for further information please refer to the document 'Differences between the EU and CITES' (pdf 35K).
The most recent Suspension Regulation (2019/1587) was adopted on 24 September 2019.
The above mentioned EU Wildlife Trade Regulations set out rules governing wildlife trade in the European Union.
Guidance is also necessary to facilitate the application of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations across the EU on some issues.
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. The Action Plan was endorsed through Council conclusions in June 2016.
The EU Wildlife Trade Regulations not only implement the provisions of CITES and the majority of CITES Resolutions, they also go beyond the requirements of the Convention in some respects.
The European Union has been fully implementing the Convention since 1 January 1984.
This is partly because of technicalities in the way the Convention was drawn up and how it could apply to the European Union, and also because, as a result of customs union, implementation by individual Member States rather than the European Union as a whole would be at best be ineffective.
Aside from these technical reasons, the adoption of environmental action plans for the European Union and legislation on the protection and conservation of the European Union's indigenous species also made wildlife trade regulations shift from being individual national issues to encompassing the entire European Union.