Wednesday

24th May 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.

Children among dead in UK bomb attack

Children are among the victims after a suspected suicide bomber detonated at the Manchester Arena on Monday, the latest in a string of terror attacks to hit Europe.

Investigation

Fight club: Russian spies seek EU recruits

Russian intelligence services are using martial arts clubs to recruit potential troublemakers in Germany and other EU countries, security experts have warned.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms