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WTO cases | Brussels, 3 November 2009, updated on 6 November

Commission reaction to the request for consultations from Canada and Norway on the EU’s legislation on seals

On 2 November 2009 Canada requested WTO consultations regarding the EU’s legislation prohibiting the marketing of products derived from seals. Norway made a similar request on 5 November 2009. The European Commission’s spokesperson for Trade, Lutz Guellner, made the following statement:

"We believe that the claim that EU is not respecting its WTO obligations is unfounded. The measures adopted are not protectionist, are not discriminatory and respond to concerns about the killing of seals and their commercialisation which are widely held in the EU, as confirmed by the overwhelming support for the legislation in the EU Member States and the European Parliament.

The Commission will vigorously defend these measures". 

Background

Regulation (EC) No. 1007/2009 of the European Parliament and the Council on trade in seal products was adopted on 16 September 2009 and was published on 31 October 2009. It enters into force 20 days after publication. The Regulation prohibits the marketing of products derived from seals on the EU market. It applies to seal products produced in the EU and imported products. It does not apply to transit through the EU.

The marketing prohibition enters into force 9 months after the entry into force of the regulation. During this period the Commission will adopt implementing legislation. Implementing measures are necessary to manage the exemptions foreseen in the Regulation as regards:

  • seals from hunts traditionally conducted by indigenous communities (including Inuit) which contribute to their subsistence;
  • occasional imports of seal products for personal use of travelers for non-commercial reasons; and,
  • goods derived from seals hunted for the sole purpose of the sustainable management of marine resources on a not-for profit basis and not for commercial reasons.

The Commission is currently preparing these implementing measures