Thursday

20th Jan 2022

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'".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • 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.

Macron promises strong EU borders

Obligatory detentions, more security-screening, and faster deportations - these are the French EU presidency's migration priorities.

MEPs to crackdown on digital 'Wild West'

MEPs will vote on new rules setting out transparency obligations for online players and holding Big Tech giants accountable. But some issues proved to be divisive after EU lawmakers tabled over a hundred amendments on the file.

Macron calls for new security order and talks with Russia

Emmanuel Macron also took hits from French political opponents, including the Green party presidential challenger MEP Yannick Jadot in the European Parliament ahead of the upcoming presidential elections in France in April.

Opinion

Macron's vision will hit EU Council veto buffers

President Emmanuel Macron's address to the European Parliament championed a bold and ambitious pro-European agenda. There is one problem though - the plans rely on a system of governance that has gridlocked the EU for over a decade.

News in Brief

  1. MEPs call for full-scale election observers in Hungary
  2. Nato membership 'very unlikely' on her watch: Finland's PM
  3. Germany investigates Green leaders' Covid-bonuns
  4. Officials surprised by Macron's call for seperate EU-Russia talks
  5. Commission to withhold EU funds from Poland in mine row
  6. 'Patriotic millionaires' call for wealth tax at virtual Davos
  7. Borders must not be moved by force, Scholz warns
  8. MEPs demand public consultation on gas and nuclear

Column

An EU-Africa 'equal partnership' must tackle past and present

Competition is fierce and getting African leaders' attention is no easy task. US president Joe Biden has his own Africa summit, and Turkey, Japan, Russia and - most importantly - China, also have Africa forums up and running.

Opinion

Tomorrow MEPs can end EU animal export horror show

On Thursday, MEPs must press for a ban on all live exports outside the EU, and call for overall journey times within the EU to be limited to four hours for poultry and rabbits, and eight hours for other animals.

Latest News

  1. Macron promises strong EU borders
  2. MEPs to crackdown on digital 'Wild West'
  3. Macron calls for new security order and talks with Russia
  4. Macron's vision will hit EU Council veto buffers
  5. Hydrogen - the 'no-lose bet' for fossil-fuel industry?
  6. Tomorrow MEPs can end EU animal export horror show
  7. An EU-Africa 'equal partnership' must tackle past and present
  8. Metsola becomes youngest EU Parliament president

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us