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Cases involving the EU

WT/DS400 - European Communities - Measures Prohibiting the Importation and Marketing of Seal Products

Last update: 30/01/2014

  • Complaint by: Canada -
  • Complaint against: EU
  • Third parties:
    Argentina - China - Colombia - Ecuador - Iceland - Japan - Mexico - Norway - Russian Federation - United States -
Summary of case:

On 2 November 2009 Canada requested consultations with the EC in respect of Regulation (EC) No. 1007/2009 of the European Parliament and the Council on trade in seal products. The Regulation 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, and is enforced on the border. It applies to seal products produced in the EU and imported products. It does not apply to transit through the EU. The marketing prohibition entered into force on 20 August 2010. On 10 August 2010 the Commission adopted regulation 737/2010, which lays down implementing measures, which also entered into force on 20 August 2010. Canada has alleged that these measures are inconsistent with Articles 2.1 and 2.2 of the TBT Agreement, Articles I.1, III.4 and X.1 of GATT 1994 and Article 4.2 of the Agreement on Agriculture.

Relevant WTO provision:

Article 2.1 and 2.2 of the TBT Agreement; Articles I:1, III:4 and XI:1 of the GATT 1994 and Article 4.2 of the Agriculture Agreement

Current situation:

Joint consultations with Norway were held on 15 December 2009. On 18 and 29 October 2010 respectively Canada and Norway requested supplementary consultations which the EU accepted. The panel was established at the DSB meeting of 25 March 2011 and a single panel composed on 4 October 2012. Two oral hearings accessible to the public took place in February and April 2013. On 25 November 2013, the WTO circulated the final panel report to all Members. The Panel rejected the claims of Canada and Norway against the ban itself (claims based on Article 2.2. of the TBT Agreement). The Panel accepted that the ban pursues a legitimate objective (public moral concerns on seal welfare) and is not more trade restrictive than necessary. The Panel also accepted, that in principle, an exception for Inuit hunts could be justified with regard to their particular subsistence purpose and the international recognition of Inuit culture, tradition and livelihood, of which Seal hunts constitute an essential part. However, the Inuit exception has been condemned for being designed and applied in an uneven-handed (discriminatory) manner because de facto, only Greenlandic Inuit are currently benefiting from the exception (finding a violation of Article 2.1 TBT Agreement as well as GATT Article I:1 and XX). The Panel also found that the discrimination resulting from the exception for hunts conducted in the framework of maritime resource management (MRM) cannot be justified and thus violates Article 2.1 TBT Agreement as well as Article III:4 GATT ( without being justified under Article XX GATT). On 24 January 2014, Canada and Norway appealed the panel report, in particular with regard to the findings on the ban as such under Article 2.2. TBT Agreement as well as the findings on the justification in principle of the exception for products derived from Inuit hunts. In reaction, the EU launched its own "other appeal" on 29 January 2014.


Date of request: 02/11/2009

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