The European Union is committed to the highest welfare in animal standards. To ensure that hunting or trapping methods are as humane as possible both within the European Union and also internationally, the EU has adopted legislation on animal welfare. In 1991, an EU regulation was introduced - commonly known as the Leghold trap regulation - prohibiting the use of leghold traps within the European Union and the importing of goods and products made from animal species which originate from countries that use leghold traps or other trapping methods that do not meet international trapping standards.
In 1983, the first piece of legislation on trade in seal products was passed. The aim of this legislation was to prohibit products derived from certain seal pups (e.g. fur skins) to be imported into the European Union.
On 16 September 2009, the European Parliament and the Council adopted a Regulation aiming to ensure that products derived from seals are no longer found on the European market. The Regulation was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 31 October 2009. The Regulation foresees the possibility to grant a limited number of exemptions and derogations. Further detailed rules are specified in the implementing Regulation that the Commission adopted on 10 August 2010 (please see below for more information).