As the European Union (EU) continues deliberations on the potential closure of its domestic ivory market, WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) noted recent developments to call for the strongest EU trade ban possible.

WCS Director of EU Strategic Relations Janice Weatherley-Singh released the following statement:

“For the past few weeks and months, momentum has grown for a ban on ivory trade within, from, and to the European Union.

“Two Members of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives introduced a law proposal on 26th June 2018 to further restrict ivory trade on its territory, which will now be considered by the Belgian Federal Parliament. The proposal aims to ban the import and export of ivory (with a few exceptions), the sale of raw ivory, and the domestic sale of carved ivory and objects containing ivory acquired after 1 July 1975; and increase the maximum sentences for violations of ivory trade regulations. The objective of this proposed legislation is to prevent criminal organisations from using the Belgian ivory market to launder illegal ivory and to help build momentum for the European Commission’s decisions on restricting ivory trade in the EU. The proposal follows the very strong announced national ban by the UK government on closure of its market for elephant ivory on 3rd April 2018.

“Such regulations are necessary within EU member states and across the EU as a whole. A new radiocarbon testing study, carried out by Oxford University, shows that the illegal ivory trade is significant within Europe and that the EU’s legal ivory market provides a loophole through which newly poached illegal ivory is being laundered, thus contributing to the elephant poaching crisis.

“The European Parliament is in favor of an EU-wide domestic ivory ban and has adopted several Resolutions in the past few years calling for one. Catherine Bearder, Member of the European Parliament, is currently hosting an exhibition on confiscated wildlife specimens inside the European Parliament in Brussels and is raising awareness of the significant problem posed by the legal ivory trade and its link to the illegal trade.

“The illegal ivory trade is a significant problem across Europe. WCS engaged in the EU’s public consultation on ivory last year, submitting comments and urging citizens to respond because the elephant poaching crisis urgently needs to be stopped once and for all. With a decision imminent, we call on the EU to show leadership and close its domestic ivory market, in line with actions by China, the US, UK, and others, across all of its 28 member states.”