Chapter 26: EU–TWIX: ten years of information exchange and cooperation between wildlife law enforcement officials in Europe
The European Union (EU) is a single market of 28 member states. This means that once goods (including wildlife and wildlife products) have entered a particular EU country, they can travel freely within the entire EU territory without being subject to any internal border controls. The EU Wildlife Trade Regulations (EUWTR), which are directly applicable in all member states, provide a common legal framework for the implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in the EU and aim to ensure that the EU takes a coordinated approach to fighting illegal wildlife trade (European Commission 2014c; CITES Secretariat 2014b). In 1997, these regulations were used as a basis to set up the EU Enforcement Group which brings together the different wildlife law enforcement agencies responsible for the enforcement of CITES in the EU (European Commission 2014b). Although this enabled information exchange between agencies, this group met only once a year (1997–2004), and contact in between meetings was minimal. It was in this context that EU–TWIX (European Union–Trade in Wildlife Information eXchange) was established in 2005. Laurent Grolet, Chief Inspector for the Belgian Federal Police, along with a group of other dedicated enforcement officials and TRAFFIC (2014a) believed that a new communication tool was needed to facilitate networking between enforcement colleagues within the member states and to tackle cases with an EU-wide connection. Identifying the officials in charge in other EU countries, or accessing the necessary information, was not always an easy or quick task. Wildlife law enforcement work needed to keep pace with wildlife crime that was becoming increasingly transnational and organized. This group therefore planned to create an informal, although secure, EU-wide communication forum to enable officials to communicate amongst themselves quickly and efficiently.
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