Written question – Possible return of the ivory trade in Europe – E-005875/2016

Press reports recently have described the shock felt by a group of 29 African countries at the European Union’s recently expressed opposition to an outright ban on trade in ivory worldwide.

Setting up a legal open market for the very few countries where the elephant population is on the increase (South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe) is being advocated instead, based on the argument that the profits from this can be used to protect elephants elsewhere.

However a study published by the universities of Berkeley and Princeton (USA) in June 2016 shows that when such a system was introduced in 2008 — largely to satisfy the appetites of the Chinese and Japanese for ivory — it proved ‘catastrophic’ for elephants and far from curbing poaching, saw it rise.

Over 100 000 African elephants have now been killed in the past three years and the world’s elephant population has fallen by 61% since 1980.

Can the Commission assure us that it will not encourage the opening of a legal market in ivory, and that it will take all necessary measures to ban trade in ivory and its by-products completely, both within Europe and worldwide?