Saturday

25th May 2019

WTO backs EU seal fur ban over 'moral concerns'

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has confirmed the EU's controversial ban on seal products, ruling that the ban was a response to "moral concerns."

A report released Monday (25 November) by a WTO panel found that the EU's ban "fulfils the objective of addressing EU public moral concerns on seal welfare to a certain extent."

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 is the first time the WTO has backed a trade restriction based on animal welfare grounds (Photo: Animaldefense)

"No alternative measure was demonstrated to make an equivalent or greater contribution to the fulfilment of the objective."

The ruling is significant because it is the first time that the Swiss-based WTO, which governs and enforces trade between 194 countries across the world, has backed a trade restriction based on animal welfare grounds.

A common but untested belief of many was that countries were not allowed to impose trade restrictions on the basis of how a product is produced.

The WTO ruling was "a victory for seals, animal welfare and Europeans,“ said Sonja Van Tichelen, IFAW EU Regional Director in a statement on Monday (25 November).

“EU leaders can be proud that they have simultaneously protected seals, represented the needs of their citizens and respected EU obligations under the WTO – that is not a simple task,” she added

The EU's ban, which was agreed by MEPs and ministers just before the last European elections in 2009, came into force in August 2010.

It applies to seal products that are produced in the EU and to imported products, with an exemption for Inuit and aboriginal peoples. Animal welfare campaigners have long argued that the seal hunt is cruel and barbaric.

However, the WTO found that several of the ban's exemptions related to products from Inuit communities were illegal because they give imported seal products treatment less favourable than that accorded to like domestic seal products.

Canada and Norway challenged the European Union’s seal products trade ban at the World Trade Organization in early 2012.

While being of great symbolic importance to aboriginal communities, the value of the seal hunt has rapidly declined in recent years.

The landed value of Canada’s 2013 commercial seal hunt was about $2.9 million and 844 sealers participated in the hunt.

Russia is now the main destination for seal products.

Thirty-four countries now ban the trade in seal products, the most recent being Taiwan which closed its market to seal meat, oil and fur in January 2013.

The countries concerned now have 60 days to file an appeal against the ruling.

EU court upholds seal fur ban

The EU 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.

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.

EU top court backs Canada trade deal in ruling

The European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday that the EU-Canada free trade agreement, and its controversial dispute settlement mechanism, is in line with the bloc's rules.

EU and Japan in delicate trade talks

The Japanese PM comes to Brussels to discuss the first results of the new EU-Japan free trade deal, plus WTO reform - a sensitive topic before he moves onto Washington to face Donald Trump.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May announces June 7 resignation date
  2. Ireland votes for EU election and divorce referendum
  3. Report: May to announce resignation plan on Friday
  4. Leading politicians: time for EU to have female leaders
  5. Poll: Finland's Green party to surge in EU elections
  6. High demand for postal voting in Denmark
  7. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  8. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all

The visit of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz to the White House on Wednesday showed that the current rift in transatlantic relations is deepening by the day.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Irish greens take Dublin in second EU exit poll
  2. EU election results to trigger top jobs scramble This WEEK
  3. Don't tell the Dutch - but Timmermans 'won'
  4. EU says goodbye to May with 'respect'
  5. Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?
  6. Italy train row exposes competing views of EU
  7. Dutch socialists on top in first EP election exit poll
  8. No usage data kept for EU parliament's 'Citizens' App'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us