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News article28 January 2021BrusselsDirectorate-General for Environment2 min read

Commission proposes new measures to ban trade in ivory

The Commission has today published draft measures aimed to effectively ban EU trade in ivory and is submitting them for public feedback. While the EU is not identified as a region of concern regarding illegal ivory trade, the revision of the existing EU rules on ivory trade reaffirms and delivers on the EU’s commitment to take further action against elephant poaching and ivory trafficking globally. This also follows the commitment made in the EU Biodiversity Strategy to further tighten the rules on EU ivory trade.

Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, said:

The world is losing wildlife populations at an incredible speed. To reverse this global trend and to protect biodiversity, we must also do our work at home. With the new rules, the European Union will send a clear signal that ivory is not a commodity and that we must ban its trade.

Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said:

Thousands of elephants are killed every year for their ivory. This is an unacceptable situation. Illegal ivory trade is an international problem and we are committed to lead by example and play our role in solving this global problem. Today’s proposal for stricter rules reflects this ambition.

The Commission proposal effectively bans the trade in ivory with limited exceptions for musical instruments legally acquired before 1975 and for internal EU trade in antiques, which will only be possible with a permit. The proposal simplifies the rules and facilitates the work of enforcement agencies, with the aim of ensuring that the very limited remaining legal trade in ivory in the EU does not contribute to poaching or illegal trade.

The proposal is put forward after thorough consultations with Member States and stakeholders which included a public consultation attracting more than 90,000 responses.

The draft Commission regulation and guidance are now open for final public feedback before final adoption of the Commission. The period of public feedback will last until 25 February starting today.

Following the public feedback and before adoption by the Commission, the proposal will be subject to the opinion of the Committee on Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora and to scrutiny by the Council and the European Parliament.


Despite an international ivory-trade ban, elephant poaching and ivory trafficking reached record levels in the recent past and have remained at high levels. It is estimated that between 20 000 and 30 000 African elephants are poached every year.

The further tightening of EU rules on ivory trade follows earlier measures taken in the context of the 2016 EU action plan against wildlife trafficking, such as the banning of the export of raw ivory decided in 2017.

In response to the challenges posed by elephant poaching and ivory trafficking, the international community has adopted numerous commitments, through Resolutions by the UN General Assembly and the UN Environment Assembly, as well as at several high level Conferences. Resolution 10.10 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) on trade in elephant specimens urges Parties to put in place comprehensive internal legislative, regulatory, enforcement and other measures for ivory trade/domestic markets.

A number of jurisdictions around the world have taken or are in the process of adopting similar measures on their domestic ivory markets.

The EU has been a longstanding supporter of the CITES Convention, which regulates international trade in more than 37 000 animal and plant species. Considerable EU funding helps implementing the Convention and the fight against wildlife trafficking.

More information

The European Union and Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora


Publication date
28 January 2021
Directorate-General for Environment

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