Canada and Norway believe that the European ban breaks international trade rules, and have both lodged complaints with the World Trade Organisation. ...
The Canadian government clearly takes the issue seriously. It might even become a stumbling block in negotiations toward a free-trade agreement between Canada and the EU. The International Fund for Animal Welfare, a conservation charity, has criticised Canada’s zeal, complaining that the government it is spending more money defending the seal hunters than the industry actually earns. The Canadian government, for its part, feels duty bound to protect the interests of a number of its poorer citizens against lobbying from special interest groups a long way away.
The evidence that the EU takes the issue seriously is harder to find. The ban appears to be a cheap way to be seen to be doing something to protect animals, thus appeasing the animal welfare lobby, by attacking a group of people who cannot fight back. Anti-sealing activists view the trade ban as a monumental victory for animal rights, having had the Canadian hunters in their sights for years. Relatively few Europeans agree with animal-rights activists that any killing of animals is bad. But most people do not eat or wear seals, are squeamish about killing cuddly doe-eyed mammals, and do not worry about the inconsistency of such a ban being enforced by a group of nations which kills it own seals for the expediency of fishermen, and kills tens of millions of farmed foxes and minks for their pelts every year.
I'm not so sure about the conclusion that the Canadian government takes this more seriously than the EU government. The way I see it, each side has a small group of enthusiastic supporters, with probably a slim majority of its citizens overall in support of the official position. The Canadians seem more passionate about the issue, but that's because they are the ones who have to get the EU law repealed. Those protesting the status quo always seem more emotional. By contrast, the EU folks have the law they want on the books right now, so they are just calmly playing defense.
Anyway, I'm not sure any of that matters as much as the WTO consistency of the EU law. In that regard, I'm curious to hear the EU response on the mink and fox point.