The chilling effect of the World Trade Organisation on European Union animal welfare protection

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


    There has been a widespread belief, that still prevails in some quarters, that the World Trade Organisation forbids trade restrictions that aim to protect animal welfare. This belief is no longer accurate following the US - Shrimp and EC - Seal Products cases brought before the WTO's dispute settlement body. The establishment of the WTO resulted in a chilling effect on the development of animal welfare legislation in the European Union, causing the renegotiation, delay and abandonment of some animal welfare laws that included trade restrictions. If the EU continues failing to restrict trade in animal products that harm animal welfare, EU animal welfare standards will be undermined by the import of poorly regulated and cheap animal products. The EU should take new interpretations of WTO law into account in its trade policy and should consider its competences, treaty provisions and its mandate from the European public to protect animal welfare. Some recent academic writing notes that the WTO more equitably balances free trade with non-trade related societal concerns than it did in the past. However, these arguments fail to address the EU's poor record in enacting trade restrictions to ensure animal welfare protection measures are not undermined. This thesis comprehensively addresses the exceptions to the WTO free trade rules and international law rules that the EU could use to defend animal welfare protecting trade measures before the WTO's dispute settlement body. By highlighting the EU's reputation as a strong standard setter for animal welfare as well as its importance as a trading bloc in animal products, this thesis sets out the benefits of strengthening EU trade restrictions to protect animal welfare. Finally, the important new opportunities and threats posed by bilateral trade negotiations are analysed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 2017

    Publication series

    NameUniversity of Aberdeen


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