Most of the EU action on wildlife trade derives from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). In addition, the EU bans the trade in seal products across the EU and regulates hunting and trapping methods to ensure that they are as humane as possible.
The CITES Convention aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Due to the European Single Market and the absence of systematic border controls within the EU, the provisions of the CITES Convention have to be implemented uniformly in all EU Member States through the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations.
In 1983, the first piece of legislation on trade in seal products was passed. The aim of the Seal Pups Directive (83/129/EEC) was to prohibit products derived from certain seal pups (e.g. fur skins) from being imported into the European Union.
On 16 September 2009, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Regulation (EC) No 1007/2009 prohibiting the trade in seal products. It aims to ensure that products derived from seals are no longer found on the European market. It foresees the possibility to grant a limited number of exemptions and derogations.
To ensure that hunting or trapping methods are as humane as possible both within the European Union and also internationally, the EU adopted a regulation in 1991 – 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.