The EESC issues between 160 and 190 opinions and information reports a year.
It also organises several annual initiatives and events with a focus on civil society and citizens’ participation such as the Civil Society Prize, the Civil Society Days, the Your Europe, Your Say youth plenary and the ECI Day.
The EESC brings together representatives from all areas of organised civil society, who give their independent advice on EU policies and legislation. The EESC's326 Members are organised into three groups: Employers, Workers and Various Interests.
The EESC has six sections, specialising in concrete topics of relevance to the citizens of the European Union, ranging from social to economic affairs, energy, environment, external relations or the internal market.
Wildlife trafficking is a lucrative criminal activity worth up to EUR 20 billion annually globally, with illegal trade growing due to being considered a low-risk, high-return activity. Despite having comprehensive legal protection for wildlife, the EU is an important market and transit platform for illegally traded wildlife. The EU has made efforts to raise awareness and fight wildlife trafficking with the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking in 2016, but demand for illegal wildlife products in the EU has not changed. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a decline in reported seizures, but it does not necessarily indicate a shift in demand or changes in illegal wildlife trade dynamics. The EU is also a source region for some endangered species, and not all illicit wildlife entering Europe is destined for European markets, with the EU often acting as a staging post.
In the opinion, the EESC:
is pleased with the Commission's commitment to allot financial and human resources from EU funds to address wildlife trafficking. However, it stresses the importance of determining the percentage of funds allocated to wildlife trafficking and monitoring and evaluating their execution at the national level;
highlights the significance of implementing effective and discouraging measures against wildlife trafficking, suggesting that the current level of sanctions proposed by the Council under the Environmental Crime Directive is insufficient and must be increased
recommends the establishment of consistent structures in all Member States, such as inter-agency committees, specialized units or staff trained to combat wildlife trafficking, and dedicated channels for communication and cooperation with social partners and civil society.