Animal welfare must not be forgotten after European Union approves EU environmental action
Posted on 29/11/2013
Eurogroup for Animals welcomes the official approval of the 7th Environmental Action Programme, also known as the General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020, as it focuses on better enforcement of existing environment legislation, recognises the need to improve policy cohesion and the use green public procurement, and includes thematic objectives on protection of natural capital, resource efficiency and protection of citizens’ health. However, Eurogroup remains disappointed that the programme has failed to take this opportunity to fully integrate animal welfare into environment policy.
The Council and European Parliament signing into law this Decision on environmental and climate policy for the next seven years is a step forward. However, the only reference to animal protection concerns the need to fill gaps in knowledge related to the properties of chemicals and their impact on human health and the environment, with the aim of reducing the need for animal testing methods. So even with no overall strategy to protect animals included in the text, Eurogroup will use the opportunities provided through the programme and integrated with the Life Plus Programme to improve and promote animal welfare in several policy areas related to nature, biodiversity, health and environment, in particular endocrine disrupters, biocides, chemicals and invasive alien species and exotic pets.
It is also positive that the programme includes a commitment for the EU to promote sustainable development through bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, as animal welfare is included in the objectives of the EU sustainable development strategy.
The theme of the plan is ‘living well, within the limits of our planet’ however, the text of the Programme states that: “many environmental trends in the Union continue to be a cause for concern, not least due to insufficient implementation of existing Union environment legislation” and this needs to be addressed rapidly to ensure among other things that animal welfare is not compromised.
“It remains to be seen if the tools adopted will really bring about changes to the current situation where there is a lack of enforcement of existing legislation. The EU should be seen as a global environmental leader but this perception is completely at odds with the reality on the ground in Europe,” commented Reineke Hameleers, Director at Eurogroup for Animals.
“Environment Action Programmes have played an important role in shaping environmental policy over the last 40 years and we hope the General Union programme to 2020 will continue this and ensure animal welfare is fully considered over the coming seven year period,” she concluded.