Ban on trade in products of Seals: the AG of the EU Court recommends to keep the ban


The General Advocate Kokott supports the EU ban on trade in products of commercial seal hunts and asked to the Court of Justice of the EU to support the ban and dismissed the appeal done by seal hunting and seal products retailers association

Last year, the General Court of the EU dismissed a plea of legality intended by several seal hunting and seal products retailers association, against the Regulation (EC) n° 1007/2009 on trade of seal products. The applicants put forward three main arguments. The first and second concerned the choice of the "internal market" as a legal basis, namely the harmonization of conditions of sale of seal products. The applicants submitted that the purpose of the regulation is the protection of animals and not the functioning of the internal market, and as animal welfare is not a legal basis in European law, there has been a violation of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. The Court rejected this first argument, recalling that "the protection of the welfare of animals is a legitimate objective of general interest."
As a third argument, the applicants invoke the protection of human rights, including the protection of indigenous peoples and their right to be heard and the right to property. The Court also rejects this argument, stating that the impugned Regulation provides exceptions to the prohibition, for seal products derived from hunts traditionally conducted by Inuit communities and other indigenous communities for subsistence.

The applicants have made an appeal of the judgment in front of the EU Court of Justice, and the Court will have to give its judgment soon. But in the EU rules, it is planned that a General Advocate is giving its opinion, before the Court is ruling. The German General Advocate Kokott has been designated and provided its opinion on March 19. In it, without mentioning once animal welfare, the general advocate is supporting the ban by a pure legal analysis of defects and inconsistencies of the complaint. She inter alia designates aspects of the objection illegitimate as they contain additional aspects which were not part of the subject matter plead at first instance.

Kokott rejects the imposed claims regarding legal errors of the court in its reference to Article 95 EC by defending its decision to draw on the time of the adoption of the basic regulation as date of examination as well as the preconditions for its recourse to this article. She dismisses the first ground of appeal as “therefore unfounded in its entirety”.

The second ground of appeal which criticizes the court for not embracing the ECHR as a source of general fundamental right principles according to Juliane Kokott is ineffective as there were no arguments given in which way it might affect the first verdict. Furthermore the minimum standard for protection of property codified in the EHCR has not been challenged by the court, as criticized by the applicants. The assignment to the right of freedom to conduct a business, Kokott argues, is not absolute and moreover outreaches the protest of the first instance. The accusation of having disesteemed Article 19 of the UNDRIP in its opinion is seen as unfounded as the article is not legally binding and does not constitute a codification of customary international law.

Based on these assumptions Kokott draws the deduction that the appeal is futile because of its “partially inadmissible and partially unfounded” character.


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