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EU Council Supports Simplified Animal Welfare Legislation

18 June 2012, at 11:37pm

EU - The European Commission has reviewed current animal welfare legislation and has called for a simplified EU legislative framework. At the 2176th Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting, the Council has welcomed the ongoing work by the Commission and supports the need to take a holistic approach in future work on the welfare of animals. Editor, Charlotte Johnston, outlines the latest situation.

Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2012-2015

The aim of the strategy is to simplify animal welfare legislation and ultimately to facilitate its enforcement. Furthermore, the Commission will consider a new EU framework to increase transparency and adequacy of information to consumers and the establishment of a network of reference centres.

In addition, the Commission stresses the need to reinforce or make better use of actions which the Commission already performs, including the development of tools to strengthen Member States' compliance with existing legislation, support for international cooperation, the establishment of a level playing field for European producers, and the provision of appropriate information to consumers and the public.

Several Member States have supported the Commission’s considerations as regards the introduction of a simplified EU legislative framework based on outcome-based animal welfare indicators. However, at the same time, they have stressed that indicators cannot necessarily replace specific resource-based provisions.

The Council has welcomed the work done by the European Commission, and emphasises that simplification of the EU legislative framework for the protection of animals can be a useful instrument for alleviating the administrative burdens on operators and authorities but must not lead to a decline in standards for the protection of animals or a lowering of ambitions to improve animal welfare EU-wide.

It suggested that simplification of the EU legislative framework for the protection of animals can be a useful instrument for alleviating the administrative burdens on operators and authorities but must not lead to a decline in standards for the protection of animals or a lowering of ambitions to improve animal welfare EU-wide.

It was mentioned that indicators, such as those developed by Welfare Quality®, need further development to be both practicable and effective from a legislative point of view. Additionally, the need to broaden the scope of EU legislation also to cover other species, including wild animals kept in captivity as well as dogs and cats kept or traded in the context of economic activity, was mentioned.

A number of Member States have expressed concerns regarding the challenges posed by globalization to the competiveness of the EU farming sectors and have stressed that the new strategy should not pose a threat to the economic sustainability of these sectors and should not put them at an economic disadvantage due to varying welfare standards worldwide, while others have underlined that animal welfare is a value in itself.

Animal transportation

In November 2010, the Commission adopted its report on the impact of the Transport Regulation.

On 15 March 2012, the European Parliament adopted Written Declaration 49/2011 requesting the establishment in the European Union of a maximum time limit of eight hours for the transportation of live animals to slaughter.

In the report the Commission concludes that the Regulation has had beneficial impact on the welfare of animals during transport. However, as problems still remain, there is room for improvement, which could be achieved by different actions.

The issues raised by Member States concerning the Commission’s report and the Transport Regulation in general have been intensively discussed in the appropriate preparatory bodies of the Council, as have the recommendations in the strategy on animal welfare and the outcome of the conference.

The Council encourages the Commission to pursue, in the near future, the additional actions outlined in the report on the Transport Regulation and in doing so take into account scientific evidence, such as the EFSA opinions. Priority should be given to dissemination of Commission guidance on interpretation of different aspects of the Regulation, which have given rise to uncertainty when interpreting the Regulation, such as the term “economic activity”.

It was also suggested that the Commission examine the possibility of adopting implementing rules in relation to livestock vessels and other areas where it is particularly important to ensure adequate and uniform enforcement of the legislation, such as internal height, loading densities for different weight categories of pigs, and certain standards for the approval of means of transport, including design of watering devices and the temperature monitoring system.

Finally the Council has called on the Commission to strengthen its international strategy on animal welfare in order to increase the value of animal welfare, to limit distortions of competition and to aim at ensuring at least equivalence between EU and third country operators, particularly in bilateral trade agreement negotiations, and encourages the Commission to promote EU standards and knowledge as regards the protection and welfare of animals in multilateral fora such as OIE, WTO and FAO.

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

Further Reading

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