Animal Welfare Strategy
ABOUT THE ISSUE
In January 2012, the European Commission published the EU Strategy for the Welfare and Protection of Animals 2012-2015, as a follow-up of the first Action plan on the protection and welfare for Animals. This document outlines the activities to improve the welfare of animals in the next 4 years. In preparation of this strategy, the Commission undertook an evaluation of the last 20 years of EU animal welfare policy by getting the opinion of various stakeholders. The evaluation report concluded that not all animals were covered by EU law and that enforcement varied greatly among member states.
The new strategy is based on 2 pillars;
- A new framework law for animal welfare which would consider the use of animal welfare indicators to clarify and to simplify legislation and to provide flexibility for operators. This law would also provide for the setting up of a Network of animal welfare centres
- The use of existing tools such as; better enforcement, training, education and information, international promotion of animal welfare, better integration of animal welfare in the Common Agriculture Policy
WHAT IS THE CURRENT SITUATION
- The European Parliament adopted in July 2012 its opinion on the strategy on the basis of an own-initiative report by Marit Paulsen MEP.
- European Agriculture Ministers, under the chairmanship of Denmark, adopted Council Conclusions in June 2012.
- The Danish Presidency and the Commission organised an International conference in Brussels on 29 February - 1 March to present the strategy and in particular discuss market based initiatives to improve animal welfare.
WHAT ARE WE CALLING FOR
- The strategy is a good tool to communicate EU animal welfare initiatives to all stakeholders and third countries. However this strategy fails to highlight the need for internal coherence between different policy areas such as protection of wild animals, and laboratory animals. It is essential that any new Commission proposal is assessed to ensure that it contributes to animal welfare and does not induce negative effects.
- High welfare standards are contributing to maintaining animal health, sustainable development, product quality and competiveness, but this is not recognized in the strategy.
- With the exception of the new framework law there is no other laws foreseen although the evaluation showed a need to extend the legal protection to other species such as cattle, fish and cats and dogs; The reports and research for these species need to be prioritised.
- Activities to improve enforcement are welcomed and together with training and education can lead to significant welfare improvements.
- Further research funding is essential to underpin future legislative initiatives and to understand the social and economical benefits of applying high welfare standards.
- The Commission needs to be ambitious in promoting animal welfare with its trading partners and insist on equivalence with EU standards for imported products.
- European Commission Website
- Report on the European Union Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2012–2015 by Marit Paulsen MEP
- Eurogroup's Press Release: Member States welcome EU Animal Welfare Strategy but encourage Commission to take more action (June 2012)
- Eurogroup's briefing on the new Animal Welfare Strategy (January 2012)
- Eurogroup's briefing on the Second Animal Welfare Strategy (February 2011)