An effective way of protecting exotic species
A Positive List is expected to be one of the most comprehensive and effective ways to reduce the rise of exotic animal pets in Europe by harmonizing domestic law.
Many countries already utilize “Negative Lists’, which list species that are not allowed in a country or to be kept as pets. A move towards a ‘Positive List’ is preferable as it allows for a concise, simplified list of what animals are allowed to be kept. These lists are shorter and require less revision over the years due to changing ownership trends, conservation status changes, and threats to human health are observed.
The introduction of an EU wide positive list will have a significant impact on the trade of wild animals, including big cats, reptiles, and amphibians, into Member States. Currently, individual countries are implementing their own versions of a Positive List. However, not all lists are created equal, resulting in a disharmonized network of laws that confuse consumers and may allow gaps in regulation. Such gaps can allow for the import and domestic breeding of wild animals making it incredibly difficult to track how many wild species are being kept as pets within the EU. For example, Malta’s list only regulates pet shops and Italy’s does not include captive bred animals.
Road so far:
- EU Parliament has shown a positive commitment towards regulating the exotic pet trade by adopting a resolution on improving EU regulation through an EU-wide positive list.
- EU PETI Committee called for an EU-Wide Positive List.
- European Court of Justice ruled the Belgian Positive List did not violate EU free trade regulations.
- Positive list was mentioned briefly in the Revised Wildlife Action Plan.
FOUR PAWS Position on an EU-Wide Positive List
An EU-Wide Positive List should restrict the private ownership of both wild and bred animals including mammals, reptiles, birds, and amphibians. A positive list should only include traditional pets including domesticated dogs, cats, certain rodent species, limited birds and reptiles.
Some Member States have implemented national positive lists that meet this standard and can be used for guidance in the development of an EU-Wide list.
Unlike a Negative list, a Positive list only provides the animals that a country allows private individuals to own. By their nature, these lists are shorter, updated less often, and clearer for individuals trying to understand what species they can keep as pets.
Our calls and actions
This year FOUR PAWS will continue advocating for the implementation of an EU-wide Positive List that is comprehensive and harmonizes Member State laws to best protect animals and reduce the trend of keeping wild and exotic animals as companion animals.
FOUR PAWS along with our partner organizations is calling for:
- A feasibility study by European Commission. The EU has a shocking gap in data on exotic pets and wild animals that are both imported into Member States and bred or traded internally. This study would not only provide the necessary data to showcase the true scope of the problem, but it would also explore the legal basis for which a Positive List is needed. This includes Article 114 of the TFEU which regulates internal market distortion, a problem that is already being presented as Member States implement national positive lists that vary widely in scope.
- Have the provision for an EU positive list under the proposed Kept Animals Regulation as part of the Animal Welfare Revision. This could potentially extend the scope of the section pertaining to cats and dogs, to include all companion animals.
Member states adopting positive lists
positive lists at eu level
A timeline of political developments
EU Parliament Committee on Petitions calls for EU-Wide Positive List to Regulate Exotic Pet Trade
EU Parliament shows positive commitment toward regulating exotic pet trade
European Court of Justice rules that the Belgian Positive List is not in violation of EU free trade regulations
Find out more about the importance of Positive Lists
What is a Positive List?
A positive list is a legislative tool often used to regulate what is permitted in a country. For example: we are advocating for a positive list that regulates the type of animal that can be considered a companion animal and be privately owned. We hope this will help reduce the number of exotic and wild species that are kept.
What is the difference between a Negative and Positive list?
Many countries already utilize ‘Negative Lists’, which list species that are not allowed in a country or to be kept as pets. A movement to a ‘Positive List’ is preferable as it allows for a concise, simplified list of what animals are allowed. These lists are shorter and require less revision over the years.
Why is an EU-Wide Positive List needed?
The introduction of an EU wide positive list will have a significant impact on the trade of wild animals, including big cats, reptiles, and amphibians, into Member States. Currently, some Member States are introducing their own version of a positive list. However, national lists without EU-Wide guidelines can result in:
- Enforcement and regulatory gaps
- De-harmonized laws
- Consumer confusion
- Intra-trade of prohibited species
- The adoption of lists that do not prohibit ownership of exotic and wild species
- A refusal to adopt a positive list and/or the passage of legislation that allows private ownership of exotic and wild species
Are exotic pets a problem in the EU?
Yes! FOUR PAWS is currently working exposing the high numbers of exotic pets kept across the European Union including the private ownership of big cats and other dangerous wild animals. We also work with partner organisations, such as Eurogroup for Animals, on providing clear and informative information on this topic.
To see Eurogroup for Animals work click here
How will a Positive List impact the Tiger Trade?
Both the inter- and intra- trade of tigers will be drastically impacted by an EU-Wide Positive List. FOURPAWS is working to ensure the EU-Wide Positive List for companion animals does not include any exotic or wild animals. This will ban mostprivate ownership of these animals across all Member States.