IFAW: New poll shows most Europeans say ‘NO’ to cruelty from Canada
(London – 14 July 2011) A new Ipsos MORI poll released today shows the majority of people across 11 EU countries support the European Union (EU) ban on seal products. On average, nearly three in four adults (72%) across the 11 countries surveyed say they support the EU’s ban on the sale of seal products in Europe. Support for the ban is highest in Germany at 88% followed by Belgium at 84% and France at 81%.
The poll results come at an awkward time for the EU and Canadian negotiators who are in Brussels this week for the latest round of talks on the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).
Animal welfare groups say the poll supports a recent amendment passed in the EU Parliament suggesting that Canada drop its challenge of the EU seal ban at the WTO, and that Europe should not ratify a trade agreement with Canada until it does so.
A single WTO dispute panel was established to hear complaints from Canada and Norway in April 2011.
"It is clear that Europeans widely support the EU ban on seal products, and if Canada wants a free trade deal they need to respect that decision and withdraw their WTO challenge," said Robbie Marsland, Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) UK.
The multi-country survey was conducted by Ipsos MORI in 11 European countries, commissioned by Humane Society International (HSI), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), Eurogroup for Animals, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), Global Action in the Interest of Animals (GAIA), Lega Anti Vivisezione (LAV), Bont voor Dieren, and Fondation Franz Weber.
Canada’s WTO challenge of the EU seal ban has been an issue during the trade discussions, and earlier this month the EU Parliament voted in favour of an amendment which was made to a proposed Motion for a Resolution on EU-Canada trade relations. The amendment states that the EU Parliament “expresses its strong hope that Canada will withdraw the WTO challenge, which runs counter to positive trade relations, prior to the need for ratification of the CETA agreement by the European Parliament."
Members of European Parliament have been vocal in their call for Canada to withdraw its WTO challenge, and this new European poll is clear evidence that they are acting on behalf of a majority of European citizens.
Key findings of the European poll
Over seven in ten adults (72%) across the 11 European countries surveyed say they support the EU’s ban on the sale of seal products in Europe.
At least four in five people in Germany (88%), Belgium (84%) and France (81%) say they support the ban.
Around three in four people in Lithuania (75%), Great Britain, Poland and Sweden (each 73%) are in support of the EU’s ban.
In the Netherlands (66%), Spain (62%) and Romania (61%), more than three in five support the ban. In Italy, just over half support the ban (52%).
The ratio of support to opposition is the highest in Northern Europe — Germany (18:1) and Belgium (14:1), followed by France (9:1) and then Sweden (8:1). Overall, across the 11 countries surveyed the ratio of support to opposition is around 5:1. While in Italy a majority (52%) say they support the ban, a third (33%) say they do not.
In Great Britain, a split ballot experimental design – with one half of the sample being asked the simple question “As you may know, last year the European Union (the EU) banned seal products from the commercial seal hunts (such as seal fur) from being sold in Europe. From what you know, do you support or oppose the EU ban on the sale of seal products in Europe?” and the other half being given a detailed explanatory introduction on the background – shows statistically identical proportions of British adults with and without the long introduction say they oppose the ban (14% with and 13% without.)
The full results are shown below, along with those for a measure of people’s knowledge of commercial seal hunting, including both the complete long introduction and the shorter introduction used in Great Britain.
The text of the EU Parliamentary amendment reads: “Takes note of the recent legal developments regarding the EU's ban on seal products, in particular Canada's request to the WTO for the establishment of a formal dispute resolution panel; expects the Commission to remain firm on the EU's stance regarding the ban on seal products, and expresses its strong hope that Canada will withdraw the WTO challenge, which runs counter to positive trade relations, prior to the need for ratification of the CETA agreement by the European Parliament;
Survey Technical Details
The multi-country survey was conducted by Ipsos MORI in 11 European countries, commissioned by the eight animal welfare NGOs listed above. A minimum of 500 interviews were conducted in each country (a total of 6,102 across the 11 countries), either face-to-face or by telephone (omnibus surveys), in April/May 2011.
National results are ‘weighted’ to the known adult population profile of each country by age, sex, work status (active or inactive) and region. The overall results for all 11 countries are also weighted in proportion to each country’s adult population size.
In Great Britain, a ‘split-sample’ was used to test the impact of knowledge of commercial seal hunting and the EU ban. One version of the question provided some background to commercial seal hunting and the ban (as did the question used in all other countries), while the second version – unique to GB – did not provide the background. The two sets of GB results are shown below. (For international consistency, the overall 11 country results include ONLY the GB results using the longer question wording).