Canada, Norway, and the European Union each appeals certain issues of law and legal interpretations developed in the Panel Reports, European Communities – Measures Prohibiting the Importation and Marketing of Seal Products (Panel Reports). The Panel was established to consider complaints by Canada and Norway (the complainants) with respect to a European Union measure dealing with seal products.
The measure at issue in these disputes, as identified by the Panel, consists of the following legal instruments:
a. Regulation (EC) No. 1007/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September 2009 on trade in seal products (Basic Regulation); and
b. Commission Regulation (EU) No. 737/2010 of 10 August 2010 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Regulation (EC) No. 1007/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council on trade in seal products (Implementing Regulation).
The Panel considered it appropriate to treat the Basic Regulation and the Implementing Regulation as a single measure, which it referred to as the “EU Seal Regime”. We do the same in these Reports.
The EU Seal Regime prohibits the placing of seal products on the EU market unless they qualify under certain exceptions, consisting of the following: (i) seal products obtained from seals hunted by Inuit or other indigenous communities (IC exception); (ii) seal products obtained from seals hunted for purposes of marine resource management (MRM exception); and (iii) seal products brought by travellers into the European Union in limited circumstances (Travellers exception). The EU Seal Regime lays down specific requirements in respect of each of these exceptions.
Canada and Norway claimed before the Panel that the EU Seal Regime violates various obligations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT 1994) and the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement). The complainants alleged that the IC and MRM exceptions of the EU Seal Regime violate the non-discrimination obligations under Articles I:1 and III:4 of the GATT 1994 and, according to Canada, also under Article 2.1 of the TBT Agreement. Both complainants contended, in essence, that the IC and MRM exceptions accord seal products from Canada and Norway less favourable treatment than that accorded to like seal products of domestic origin, mainly from Sweden and Finland, and those of other foreign origin, particularly from Greenland.