Animal Health Law position Discussed at European Parliament’s Intergroup on Animal Welfare
Posted on 12/09/2013
Eurogroup for Animals today presented its demands on the recently published Commission proposal for a Regulation on Animal Health (COM(2013)260) at the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Animal Welfare and Conservation.
Eurogroup welcomes the Commission’s proposal, which comes in the wake of numerous disease outbreaks that have severely impacted the health and welfare of millions of animals. We strongly believe that concerted action must be taken at EU level to effectively address animal health concerns for all animals and establishments. Whilst the proposal holds much potential to protect animal and public health, we are concerned that due to the many detailed rules being left to delegated and implementing acts, it is very difficult to understand the true implications of the law for animals, leaving little certainty as to how the legislative proposal would be implemented both in terms of scope and content.
Specifically Eurogroup has seven key demands in relation to the proposal and they are as follows:
1. Recognition of animals as sentient beings: We welcome the proposal’s commitment, to take the relationship between animal health and welfare into account. However, the proposal provides no assurance that animal welfare requirements will be respected. This is of particular concern in the context of the proposed rules on prevention and disease control..
2. Listing diseases that affect all animals: We agree that the criteria for listing diseases must include considerations of their impact on society and the environment, including their impact on animal welfare. However, the mechanism for deciding and amending the list of diseases as well as determining its applicability should be transparent and include opportunities for detailed recommendations by stakeholders.
3. Ensuring adequate scope of basic requirements: All establishments, species and movements pose a potential disease risk. Therefore basic requirements for identification and registration of animals, registration of transporters and approval of certain types of establishments should apply to all animals.
4. Recognizing good animal welfare management practices as a component of prevention: Appropriate animal management practices should be supported in the context of disease prevention under the “responsibilities and knowledge” requirements of operators, and in the context of the provisions given for biosecurity. This includes improved breeding, keeping, and transport practices.
5. Supporting rational animal health visits and certificates: All animal health visits should also look at the welfare of the animals, and the requirement for an animal health certificate should cover all animals under human care and explicitly include cats and dogs for commercial movements as well as the exotic pet trade, markets, zoos, and circuses.
6. Prevent animal suffering while eradicating disease: Suffering of affected animals must be minimized by ensuring that disease control measures, such as culling carried out in eradication programmes or contingency plans, are conducted as humanely as possible for each group of species, only when needed and on as few animals as necessary.
7. Delegated and implementing acts as well as national measures: Implementing rules must be transparently decided, enabling stakeholder participation, proper assessment of their impact, and rational integration of existing rules where appropriate.
“We call for the specific provision for registration and traceability, among others, to cover all kept animals, including pet animals and exotic pets as well as farmed animals of lesser economic importance, due to the inherent disease risks associated with these animals and relevant establishments. We believe the Animal Health Law must ensure that animal welfare is sufficiently integrated into prevention and control measures,” commented Reineke Hameleers, Director of Eurogroup for animals.
“We stress the important inter-linkages between animal health and animal welfare of all animals, as well as their relevance for addressing today’s environmental and public health challenges. The health of animals in the EU must be supported in the most holistic and humane way possible,” she concluded.