Summary: The paper, produced by the wildlife trade monitoring network, Traffic, on the eve of EU enlargement urges the old and new member states to increase their efforts to stem the illegal trade in wildlife. Experts fear that traders will exploit the enlargement of the European Union to launder illegally obtained wildlife into the EU single market. The report reveals that current differences between wildlife trade controls in existing and new EU states have allowed traders to legally import species that have been banned in the EU for years. It expresses concern that traders in accession countries will make use of the opportunity to introduce illegal species together with their legal stock into the EU to meet demand from existing EU members when the borders disappear on May 1. Such species include tortoises, parrots, snakes, lizards and orchids. Between 2000 and 2002, more than a thousand endangered Kleinmannu0092s Tortoises have been smuggled into Poland and Malta. It is likely that these will find a ready market in the EU after the borders have opened. There is also evidence that the threatened Saint Lucia Amazon Parrot and the Madagascar Tortoise are being illegally kept in the Czech Republic. These species can fetch several thousand euros on the EU black market. The report shows that there will be a drastic reduction in customs staff at key existing borders. After accession, Europe's Eastern border will increase in size by a third and will be controlled by seven instead of three countries. Control of illegal wildlife trade in the EU is particularly challenging as systematic controls only take place at the external borders. Once regulated animal and plant species enter the EU they can be moved freely between the countries. The report calls on EU governments to establish an EU wildlife trade task force to monitor illegal wildlife trade, support enforcement officers working throughout the EU, in particular in the 10 new members, now on the frontline of the EU.
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