Act to end EU ivory trade! Latest proposals a glimmer of hope, but legally binding measures needed

EIA has worked hard with partner organisations since 2017 to push for the closure of the EU ivory market and welcomes the commitment of the EU Commission to strengthen measures against illegal ivory trade in the bloc.  

In January 2021, the Commission published its latest proposal to close the EU ivory market, with limited exceptions.

A par of elephants together in a riverThe good news is that the proposal is now open for public comment, so you can have your say to strengthen it and play an historic part in elephant conservation.

Legal markets provide cover for the laundering of illegal ivory, which not only confuses enforcement efforts to tackle black markets, but also fuels acceptability and demand for ivory which increases poaching pressure on elephants.

With fewer than 400,000 elephants left in the wild and approximately 20,000 poached each year for their ivory, time is of the essence to close ivory markets and signal a commitment to the conservation rather than commercial exploitation of this keystone species.

Here, we weigh up the pros and cons of the EU proposal.


We are deeply concerned that some of the latest proposals are presented in the form of  “guidance” and are not legally binding; they should instead be included in binding regulations.

We welcome the proposal to suspend all imports and exports of raw and worked ivory into and from the EU, with the narrow exception of musical instruments containing ivory made prior to 1975. As one of the world’s largest exporters of legal ivory, we commend the EU for this ground-breaking measure which will significantly reduce the global ivory market.

While it is encouraging that strict permits will now be needed to trade in ivory sourced prior to 1947, we are concerned that this could continue to allow legal trade in a large volume of ivory products in the EU. The EU proposal should be strengthened to ensure that permits are issued only for genuine antiques items with a small, specified percentage of ivory

We support the proposed suspension of all trade of raw ivory within the EU.


The public consultation closes on 25 February 2021. We need your voice to push the EU Commission to ban ivory trade and protect elephants.

We recommend tailoring your comments to express your concerns. You can do this by drawing on our analysis above or adapting the short message below, which you can easily submit online.

“I [insert name here] support an end to ivory trade in the EU and welcome the EU Commission’s proposed amendments. In particular, I support the proposal to suspend imports and re-exports of raw and worked ivory and the proposal to require certificates for intra-EU trade in worked ivory. However, I am concerned that these proposals are not legally binding and do not go far enough to restrict the issuance of trade permits to only a limited and specified type of worked ivory.’’