For those following the Canada-EU seals case, it continues to develop - with one avenue being its slow progress through EU (ECJ) domestic fora. The Sydney Morning Herald (via the AFP news service), and other papers (but probably not read by as many of the Blog's readers), reported in a story titled "Seal hunters lose bid to lift EU ban" (see www.smh.com.au) that:
"A European judge has refused to suspend a ban on the import of seal products in Europe, dealing a blow to Canada's Inuit hunters and fur traders. . . . The new ruling on Thursday by the European Court of Justice further "disappointed" both Canadian sealers and Ottawa. Judge Marc Jaeger rejected an argument made by the Inuits that the embargo on seal products would cause severe financial damage and raise the risk of suicide among youths in their communities.
The ban took partial effect on August 20, with a temporary exemption for Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), a native Canadian group, and 15 other plaintiffs who sought a freeze until Europe's top court makes a final ruling. But Jaeger rejected the request, making it a total ban until the European Court of Justice decides on the legality of the prohibition.
The European ban includes an exemption for seal products derived from hunts traditionally conducted by Inuit and indigenous communities for subsistence. Despite the exemption, Inuits insist that they are nevertheless affected because it shrinks the market for the product. They also fear that the exemption would not always be respected. Jaeger was not swayed. "The plaintiffs presented no concrete indication that would justify their fears in this regard," the judge wrote in his October 25 decision issued in French.
His decision can be appealed. In Brussels, the European Commission said the legislation would now apply "to all, fully and without restriction". The EU executive said the plaintiffs' case was "misguided and clearly inadmissible. . . ."
The story also noted that the next round of the WTO seals dispute negotiations were to start this month. If anyone knows more about the status and content of those negotiations it would be great to hear about it. I think this case has the potential to be a very significant Article XX case (with the morals exception looming large).