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July 14, 2011

New Poll Shows Most Europeans Say ‘NO’ to Cruelty from Canada

Humane Society International/Europe

  • New poll show support for EU ban on seal products. Gray Mitchell.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — A new Ipsos MORI poll commissioned by a group of nine non-profit organizations released today shows the majority of people across 11 EU countries support the European Union (EU) ban on seal products. On average, nearly three in four adults (72%) across the 11 countries surveyed say they support the EU’s ban on the sale of seal products in Europe. Support for the ban is highest in Germany at 88% followed by Belgium at 84% and France at 81%.

The poll results come at an awkward time for the EU and Canadian negotiators who are in Brussels this week for the latest round of talks on the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).

Animal welfare groups say the poll supports a recent amendment passed in the EU Parliament suggesting that Canada drop its challenge of the EU seal ban at the WTO, and that Europe should not ratify a trade agreement with Canada until it does so.

A single WTO dispute panel was established to hear complaints from Canada and Norway in April 2011.

“It is clear that Europeans widely support the EU ban on seal products, and if Canada wants a free trade deal they need to respect that decision and withdraw their WTO challenge,” said Joanna Swabe Ph.D., HSI EU director.

The multi-country survey was conducted by Ipsos MORI in 11 European countries, commissioned by Humane Society International (HSI), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), Eurogroup for Animals, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), Global Action in the Interest of Animals (GAIA), Lega Anti Vivisezione (LAV), Bont voor Dieren, and Fondation Franz Weber.

Canada’s WTO challenge of the EU seal ban has been an issue during the trade discussions, and last month the EU Parliament voted in favour of an amendment which was made to a proposed Motion for a Resolution on EU-Canada trade relations. The amendment states that the EU Parliament “expresses its strong hope that Canada will withdraw the WTO challenge, which runs counter to positive trade relations, prior to the need for ratification of the CETA agreement by the European Parliament;"

Members of European Parliament have been vocal in their call for Canada to withdraw its WTO challenge, and this new European poll is clear evidence that they are acting on behalf of a majority of European citizens.

Key findings of the European poll:

  • Over seven in ten adults (72%) across the 11 European countries surveyed say they support the EU’s ban on the sale of seal products in Europe.
  • At least four in five people in Germany (88%), Belgium (84%) and France (81%) say they support the ban.
  • Around three in four people in Lithuania (75%), Great Britain, Poland and Sweden (each 73%) are in support of the EU’s ban.
  • In the Netherlands (66%), Spain (62%) and Romania (61%), more than three in five support the ban. In Italy, just over half support the ban (52%).
  • The ratio of support to opposition is the highest in Northern Europe — Germany (18:1) and Belgium (14:1), followed by France (9:1) and then Sweden (8:1). Overall, across the 11 countries surveyed the ratio of support to opposition is around 5:1. While in Italy a majority (52%) say they support the ban, a third (33%) say they do not.
  • In Great Britain, a split ballot experimental design - with one half of the sample being asked the simple question “As you may know, last year the European Union (the EU) banned seal products from the commercial seal hunts (such as seal fur) from being sold in Europe. From what you know, do you support or oppose the EU ban on the sale of seal products in Europe?” and the other half being given a detailed explanatory introduction on the background - shows statistically identical proportions of British adults with and without the long introduction say they oppose the ban (14% with and 13% without.)

The full results are shown, along with those for a measure of people’s knowledge of commercial seal hunting, including both the complete long introduction and the shorter introduction used in Great Britain, on a PDF document, listed below [1].

Notes:

The text of the EU Parliamentary amendment reads: “Takes note of the recent legal developments regarding the EU's ban on seal products, in particular Canada's request to the WTO for the establishment of a formal dispute resolution panel; expects the Commission to remain firm on the EU's stance regarding the ban on seal products, and expresses its strong hope that Canada will withdraw the WTO challenge, which runs counter to positive trade relations, prior to the need for ratification of the CETA agreement by the European Parliament;

1. Results of the Ipsos MORI poll [PDF].

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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.

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