New EU Strategy fails to highlight benefits of animal welfare for Animals and People
Posted on 19/01/2012
Eurogroup for Animals is extremely disappointed by the EU’s new Animal welfare strategy published today which outlines the future actions proposed to improve the treatment and welfare of animals until 2015. This strategy lacks any ambition and is a missed opportunity to highlight the role the EU can play in translating citizens concerns into action. Research clearly shows that European citizens care deeply about animals and expect governments to take responsibility and improve animal welfare. This strategy completely ignores this and the positive impact good animal welfare has on animal health, food safety and quality and sustainability.
The Strategy follows an evaluation of 20 years of animal welfare policy which concluded that current rules need to be better enforced and that some animal groups currently outside the scope of EU protection, such as dairy cows and pets, could benefit from harmonised EU laws. The strategy disregards these findings and does not recommend actions to address the concerns raised.
“The animal welfare movement relies on the EU to take its responsibility seriously and to regulate on those areas where animals suffer. It is astonishing that no future laws are planned and that high profile issues such as live animal transport, the cloning of animals for food and animal testing for cosmetics are not even mentioned in the strategy,” said Sonja Van Tichelen, Director of Eurogroup for Animals.
“We are extremely alarmed that despite there being no evidence that EU animal welfare polices have undermined the competiveness of EU producers the European Commission has listened to the industry and farming lobby and ignored the concerns of Europe’s citizens and the European Parliament as well as the animal welfare sector. The Commission is in effect bringing policy development to a standstill,” she concluded.
All that is left in the Strategy is a focus on enforcement activities and soft policy tools, such as training and communication. The Strategy supports a general framework law which should be established to introduce general principles, but it must also include the use of animal based indicators and the establishment of a European network of reference centres.
Eurogroup is also concerned about the lack of attention to policy coherence and to the use and abuse of animals as a result of other policy decisions. The EU Treaty requires consistency between its policies and Article 13 demands that full consideration needs to be given to animals as sentient beings when drafting legislation in different areas. However, except for agriculture policy and trade, this strategy does not mention the need for coherence with other policies such as research, wildlife protection, consumer protection or sustainable development and this will undoubtedly cause animal suffering.