Monday

27th Feb 2017

WTO confirms EU seal trade ban

  • Thousands of seal pups are killed during the hunting season (Photo: EUobserver)

The EU's four-year-old ban on seal fur will remain in place after the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rejected an appeal by Canada and Norway thus setting a precedent that animal welfare can trump the right to trade.

In its landmark ruling on Thursday (22 May), the Geneva-based trade organisation said that its appellate body had "upheld the panel's finding that the EU Seal Regime is 'necessary to protect public morals'".

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • The EU's seal ban "upholds moral concerns," the WTO has ruled. (Photo: EUobserver)

The decision by the WTO's appellate body, which is final, found that complaints by Norway and Canada that their seal trade was being affected were outweighed by the EU's objective of protecting seal welfare through the ban.

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 killed during the hunting season, often being shot and then clubbed to death. Seal skins and fur are used for making luxury clothing.

"IFAW applauds the WTO for reiterating the importance of public morality in international trade, and the European Union for taking this principled stand against the inhumane slaughter of seals," said IFAW EU Regional Director Sonja Van Tichelen.

"The ban is backed by the most rigorous scientific and socio-economic examination of commercial seal hunts around the world ever conducted," she added.

However, the EU will be forced to re-write its rules exempting Inuit communities from the ban, after the WTO ruled that the exemption discriminated against commercial fishers in Canada and Norway.

In a statement, the European Commission said that it would "review the findings on these exceptions to the ban and consider options for implementation".

"Overall, the Commission welcomes today's ruling as it upholds the ban imposed in reaction to genuine concerns of EU citizens."

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.

Column / Health Matters

The yin and yang of traditional Chinese medicine

Can traditional medicine help the modern European patient? Malta has signed an agreement with China that would increase the provision of traditional Chinese medicine to its citizens.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Searching for a voice and a standard bearer

As Britons come to terms with the reality of Brexit many Remainers are now listless, looking for someone to present a viable alternative to Theresa May's dominance

Opinion

The Lake Chad Basin crisis

With no end in sight to the "tragedy", humanitarian agencies must call for international political and security engagement, the UN's head of migration says.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Searching for a voice and a standard bearer

As Britons come to terms with the reality of Brexit many Remainers are now listless, looking for someone to present a viable alternative to Theresa May's dominance

News in Brief

  1. Spanish court jails former IMF chief Rato
  2. Macron proposes Nordic-style economic model for France
  3. Germany posts record high budget surplus
  4. Labour ousts Ukip in Brexit homeland
  5. Dutch lower house approves EU-Ukraine treaty
  6. WTO says Russian pork ban was illegal
  7. Belgian nuclear plant made 'significant progress' on safety
  8. Report: Commission gauging EU support for Poland sanctions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EURORDISJoin Rare Disease Day and Help Advocate for More Research on Rare Diseases
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  3. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  4. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  5. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  6. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  7. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  9. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  10. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  12. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations