The EU legislation effectively bans all trade in seal products from Norway.
“We consider the legislation to be inconsistent with the EU’s obligations under WTO rules, and are looking forward to the start of the panel process,” said Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide.
The EU legislation sets very strict requirements for trade in seal products. It is not possible for Norwegian seal products to meet these requirements, and they can therefore no longer be placed on the market in the EU.
“For the Norwegian authorities, this issue involves important principles, such as our right to sustainably harvest our living marine resources and to sell products derived from hunting and fishing,” said Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs Lisbeth Berg-Hansen.
Norway, like Canada, considers the EU’s ban to be groundless. The seal stocks from which Norway harvests are not threatened, and the Norwegian seal hunt is strictly controlled and required to maintain satisfactory ethical standards that safeguard animal welfare.
The WTO panel process is likely to take about a year to complete.
The dispute settlement panel was established in April 2011 at Norway and Canada’s request, to provide an independent assessment of the EU regulation on trade in seal products (Regulation 1007/2009/EC), which entered into force on 20 August 2010.