EU Court Upholds Seal Ban

Thursday, April 25, 2013
Brussels, Belgium

The European General Court today upheld the EU trade regulation on seal products. In a strongly-worded and crystal clear decision the court dismissed any concerns that either the EU seal trade regulation, or its implementation, lacked a legal basis.

“This is a satisfying result for IFAW,” said Sonja Van Tichelen, IFAW EU Regional Director. “We have European citizens onside, we have the scientific community onside, and now we have the legal community onside in shutting Europe’s door to the unnecessary cruelty of commercial sealing.”

“The next step is for the WTO to recognize the validity of the EU seal trade regulation at the ongoing dispute in Geneva,” continued Van Tichelen. “IFAW will continue to support the EU Commission’s defense of the EU seal trade regulation at the WTO just as it has here at the European General Court.”

The second hearing of the challenge by Norway and Canada to the EU seal trade regulation is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday next week.

The European General Court made a very strong argument in favour of the necessity regulation in its two page decision:

The EU legislature took the view that, in the absence of action at EU level, obstacles to trade would arise. It therefore took action in order to harmonise the rules and thus prevent the disturbance of the internal market in seal products.

The General Court confirms that the objective of the basic regulation, which is the improvement of the conditions of functioning of the internal market, taking into account the protection of animal welfare, cannot be satisfactorily achieved by action undertaken only in the Member States and requires action at EU level.

“The commercial seal hunt is a vestige of the 19th century. The inherent cruelty of commercially hunting seals is neither acceptable or necessary,” said Van Tichelen. “We need to be working on securing a future for our planet, the seals and people.”

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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Sheryl Fink, Wildlife Campaigns Director, IFAW Canada
Wildlife Campaigns Director, IFAW Canada
Sonja Van Tichelen, Regional Director, European Union
Regional Director, European Union