EU as a new Party to CITES: implications, opportunities and priorities

Stephen Wiggins Article, Event, IWB Led Petition 2 Comments

European Parliament, Brussels, 20 October 2015


Petition to Improve Protection of African Lions  (plus Rhino and Elephants)

I was privileged to attend (facilitated by The Born Free Foundation and Joanne Cruz, European Commission) the MEPs4Wildlife’s meeting in Brussels on 20 October – However, due to European Parliament building access security, I took rather longer to access the meeting then first envisaged!

So, the EU is now a party to CITES (as of July 2015). So, any resolution to the forthcoming Conference of Parties (CoP17, 24 September – 4 October 2016) will need to be made by consensus of the 28 EU Members States by the cut off for resolutions to CoP17, 26 April 2016. In summary:

  • EU Member States can make their own priority suggestions for CITES resolutions;
  • All 28 EU Member States will need to agree (by unanimous consensus) any resolutions to forward to CoP17;
  • Resolutions to CoP17 will only be carried forward if there is a 2/3 majority in favour from the 181 Signatories to CITES;

As with any organisation, there-in exists bureaucracy. Helga Zeitler (European Commission) explained that any European Commission consensus can only be acted upon by a EU Parliament “Motion for Resolution” in accordance with “EU Treaty, article 289.”

This EU Parliament “Motion for Resolution” ‘path’ is somewhat crowded and ‘queueing’ evident. So, one of the main issues I took away from this meeting, is the imperative that a “fast-track” ‘path’ needs to be established if the following is to be achieved:

  • Individual EU Member States to form and submit proposed resolutions to CITES at EU level;
  • 28 EU Member States to agree consensus on resolutions for the EU as a new a party to CITES to gain EU Parliamentary approval (“Motion for Resolution” or alternative “fast-track” ‘path’);
  • EU as a party to CITES, must submit proposed resolutions for CoP17 by 26 April 2016;
  • EU to attend and lobby for EU’s resolutions to CoP17, 24 September – 4 October 2016.


  1. Helga Zeitler commented, that the EU’s internal, external negotiations and ‘decisions’ are not public. So, the EU Party to CITES process is also not likely to be openly/publically transparent, but will be accessible to the public by regular EU ‘briefings.’
  2. David Morgan (Chief of CITES) encouraged “talking to others” – countries outside of the European Union, winning “hearts and minds” and “global consensus” pre-CoP17.
  3. Current EU Presidency is held by Luxembourg, but will rotate to The Netherland’s EU Presidency in the timescale resolutions to CoP17 are needed from the European Union. So, The Netherland’s taking a strong lead on wildlife might prove key – The following link would suggest The Netherlands is right behind it:

Netherlands State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Sharon Dijksma

I enjoyed Jacqueline Foster MEP’s ‘mantra’ that “we want some action” and it’s “not what we can’t do, but what we can do, in conjunction with charities, non-government organisation (NGO) and relevant individuals.

Other Questions and Comments to Meeting Summary
  • Uplisting Proposals” (moving increasingly threatened species from current CITES Appendix listing) – The council needs to take a ‘position’; need for a ‘road-map’ and the ‘pangolin‘ plight (“the world’s most trafficked mammal” currently only CITES Appendix II listed) mentioned;
  • Is there an EU budget for MEPs to work on the EU’s CITES resolutions and for ensuring a “quality EU delegation” attending CoP17? – To be established;
  • The Barbary macaque (macaca) (Macaca Sylvanus), highlighted as a strong potential “Uplifting Proposal” candidate by the chair after the Barbary macaque’s plight was raised from the meeting’s floor;

Notes: The Barbary macaque (traditionally referred to as an ape) inhabits North Africa (Algeria, Tunisia, Morroco and Libya), with the only natural population remaining in Europe still evident in Gibraltar. The IUCN Red List has the Barbary macaque listed as “Endangered” but the sub-species currently resides as only CITES Appendix II listed. Population numbers remain threatened by on-going habitat loss, with an estimated of 12,000 – 21,000 population in the Atlas mountain (Cedar forest regions) and a colony of some 230 in Gibraltar (British Overseas Territory).

  • IWB’s Petition for “Uplisting Proposals” for White and Black rhino, African lion and African elephant – This petition is still on-going/valid, as the United Kingdom (via Defra) is welcome to form resolutions for submission to the EU as a party to CITES;
  • Lots of work to be done – Confident and pleased MEPs4Wildife are taking the initiative;
  • Next EU CITES meeting to be announced;
  • Next MEPs4Wildlife meeting – Illegal Trafficking of Wildlife, 11 November 2015.

20 October Meeting – Chair and Podium

Jacqueline Foster MEP, United Kingdom – MEPs4Wildlife, Meeting Chair

Catherine Bearder MEP, United Kingdom – MEPs4Wildlife (unable to attend 20 October meeting)

Mark Jones, The Born Free Foundation – President of Species Survival Network,

David Morgan – Chief of CITES

George Bach MEP, Luxembourg

Christophe Hansen MEP, Luxembourg

Helge Zeitler – EU Commission

Comments 2

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