THE EUROPEAN Parliament has adopted a report on a proposed EU-wide ban on trading in cat and dog fur. The first-reading debate scraps an exemption allowing trade in fur from cats and dogs if they were ‘not bred or killed for fur production’. MEPs feared that this would leave a ‘gaping loophole’ in the legislation, which traders would quickly exploit.
In December 2003, the EU Parliament adopted a declaration calling on the European Commission to draft a regulation banning the import, export, sale and production of cat and dog fur and skins. Three years later – after a public outcry over evidence that cat and dog fur products were still entering the EU, despite a voluntary code of conduct adopted by European fur traders – Parliament got its wish.
‘The placing on the market and the import to or export from the Community of fur of cats and dogs and products containing such fur shall be prohibited’, stipulates Article 1 of the draft regulation proposed by the Commission. The committee backed this element of the legislation by a large majority.
However, they did not back a derogation proposed by the Commission to the ban, which would open up the possibility for cat and dog fur to be placed on the EU market provided that the fur (or products containing it) were (a) ‘labelled as originating from cats or dogs that have not been bred or killed for fur production’, or (b) constituted ‘personal or household effects’ introduced into, or exported from, the Community.
Rapporteur Eva-Britt Svensson (GUE/NGL, SE) was adamant about doing away with the derogation, saying that it ‘would provide a gaping loophole, which would be ruthlessly exploited by traders of all future consignments of cat and dog fur, thus rendering the entire regulation useless’. Fellow MEPs agreed, voting to delete the relevant article, and committee chair Arlene McCarthy (PES, UK) echoed their views, saying: ‘We want a ban, not a restriction’.
In the course of negotiations with the Council, MEPs did agree, however, that, ‘by way of exceptional derogation’, the Commission may adopt provisions allowing cat and dog fur on the EU market ‘for educational or taxidermy purposes.’
By entering into negotiations with the Council Presidency ahead of the plenary vote, MEPs have secured a first-reading agreement on the ban. This means, effectively, that the Council is expected to back the Parliament's report (i.e. its amendments) and to adopt the legislation without any further changes. The ban will apply from 31 December 2008.