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June 8, 2011

HSI Applauds European Parliament’s Defence of EU Seal Product Trade Ban in Resolution on EU-Canada Trade Relations

Humane Society International/Europe

  • End the seal slaughter. Katie Carrus/The HSUS

STRASBOURG, France—Humane Society International/Europe applauds the European Parliament’s threat to block the ratification of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement if the Canadian government does not withdraw its challenge to the EU ban on seal products at the World Trade Organisation.

The European Parliament’s Resolution on EU-Canada trade relations calls for Canada to withdraw its WTO challenge and explicitly reminds both the European Commission and the Canadian government that the European Parliament has the power to reject any Free Trade Agreement negotiated between the two parties. Canada is currently negotiating an FTA with the EU that could bring GDP gains of up to €8.2 billion (CAN $12 billion) for Canada by 2014. [1]

“We are extremely pleased that the European Parliament has spoken out in defence of its own legislation,” says Joanna Swabe, Ph.D, EU director of Humane Society International. “Canada’s WTO challenge to the EU ban on seal products must be regarded a direct attack on legislation that was democratically adopted and strongly supported by both the European Parliament, EU Member States and EU citizens. It is unacceptable that Canada seeks to profit economically from a trade agreement with the EU, while—at the very same time—displaying such contempt for European values and democratic processes.”

"This is a great day for animal welfare and European democracy. The European Parliament has stepped up to the mark, toe-to-toe with the Canadian government and the European Commission,” said David Martin, UK Socialist Member of the European Parliament. “We did not blink, but stood firm for the democratically expressed will of the European citizens that we should not import cruelty in the form of cruelly garnered seal products. We want no more blood on the ice on our consciences. The European Parliament was given new powers by the Lisbon Treaty and has shown it is prepared to use them in the name of humanity and democracy.”

In May 2009, 550 Members of the European Parliament voted in favour of a strong prohibition on seal product trade; only 49 MEPs voted against. Following repeated threats and two rounds of consultations, on 11th February 2011 Canada announced that it had requested a WTO dispute panel concerning the EU ban on seal products. [2]

This is despite the fact that Canadian polls show that 86 percent of Canadians support the right of the EU to ban seal product trade and the majority of Canadians opposed the Canadian government move to challenge the Netherlands and Belgium at WTO in regards to their prohibitions on seal product trade. A further 75 percent of Canadians opposed the Canadian government’s use of tax dollars to send delegations to Europe to promote Canada’s commercial seal hunt. [3]

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Humane Society International is the international arm of The Humane Society of the United States, one of the world's largest animal protection organizations—backed by 11 million people. HSI is creating a better future for animals and people through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide—On the Web at hsi.org.


1. In 2008, Canada and the EU publicly released a Joint Study on Assessing the Costs and Benefits of a Closer EU-Canada Economic Partnership. The study shows that liberalising trade in goods and services could bring GDP gains of up to $12 billion (or €8.2 billion) for Canada by 2014. In particular, the study shows that a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) would provide $36 million (€ 26 million) in benefits to the Canadian seafood industry annually.

2. Norway also requested a dispute panel on 14th March 2011.

3. Environics Research 2008. http://www.ifaw.org/Publications/Program_Publications/Seals/asset_upload_file788_52108.pdf

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