Friday

20th Sep 2019

EU court upholds seal fur ban

  • Safe at last? EU court upholds seal fur ban (Photo: EUobserver)

The EU's three-year-old ban on seal fur will remain intact after the bloc's highest court threw out a legal challenge by the Canadian Inuit and the country's fur trade.

Unveiling its judgment on Thursday (25 April), the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice (ECJ) said the ban had been established to "harmonise the rules and thus prevent the disturbance of the internal market in seal products".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

It added that a handful of EU countries had already put in place national restrictions on seal fur resulting in "fragmentation" of the internal market.

The case had been brought by Inuit community group, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), and the Fur Institute of Canada, with both organisations claiming that their livelihood depends on the trade.

In a statement following the ruling, Terry Audla, president of the ITK, accused the EU of displaying a "colonial, holier-than-thou attitude", adding that "their self-serving interests have not resulted in a fair or just process for Inuit."

The seal fur ban became an unlikely issue during the 2009 European elections following a sustained lobbying effort by MEPs and animal welfare charities.

Thousands of seal pups are slaughtered in any given hunting season, often being shot and then clubbed to death. Seal skins and fur are used for making luxury clothing.

Since the ban, seal hunting has all-but collapsed. Just 40,000 seals were killed in Canada during the commercial seal hunt in 2011, a big reduction from the 354,000 in 2006.

For their part, animal rights charities welcomed Thursday's ruling.

Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada, said she was "thrilled that the European General Court has rejected this shameful attempt by the commercial sealing industry to overturn the EU ban on seal product trade."

The ECJ case is the latest in a string of attempts by the Canadian authorities to scrap the ban.

Next week, the Canadian government will take the case to the World Trade Organisation in Geneva. A statement issued by Canada's conservative government said that "the Canadian government will continue to send a strong message that we are serious about defending our legitimate commercial seal harvest."

Little support for EU seal ban up north

Most delegates meeting for an Arctic Council ministerial in Greenland on Thursday had few words of support for the EU's ban on seal product imports, currently facing a challenge in the World Trade Organisation.

Inuit sue EU over seal ban

Canadian and Greenlandic Inuit groups are suing the European Union over its ban on seal products, and are very confident they will win, arguing that the hunt is neither inhumane nor environmentally unsustainable.

WTO confirms EU seal trade ban

The EU's four-year-old ban on seal fur will remain in place after the World Trade Organisation rejected an appeal by Canada and Norway.

News in Brief

  1. Austria to veto EU trade deal with South America
  2. Brexit minister asks EU for 'flexibility' to secure a deal
  3. Kovesi has 'sufficient majority' for prosecutor post
  4. France, Finland give UK ultimatum for Brexit plan
  5. Minsk talks bode ill for EU's peace summit on Ukraine
  6. Poll: Poland's nationalist rulers to win October election
  7. Irish lawyers clash with EU commission in Apple case
  8. NGOs take aim at EU smartphone pollution

Opinion

Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  2. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  3. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  4. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  5. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants
  6. Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'
  7. A new Commission for the one percent
  8. Juncker: No-deal Brexit 'palpable'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us