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Commission reviews EU's animal welfare strategy

Posted by Nick Prag at 20 February 2014, 19:30 CET |

The European Commission marked the mid-point of the EU's Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2012-2015 last week at a conference in Brussels which brought together key stakeholders to review achievements to date and identify challenges ahead.

The aim of the strategy adopted in 2012 was to ensure farm animals are kept and transported under conditions that do not subject them to maltreatment, abuse, pain or suffering.

The strategy includes better enforcement of welfare rules, levelling the playing field for producers, improving scientific information, as well as communication to consumers on animal welfare claims that are made.

The general aim is to ensure that animals do not endure avoidable pain or suffering, and to oblige the owner/keeper of animals to respect minimum welfare requirements.

Animal welfare is now embedded in the Lisbon Treaty, which states that "In formulating and implementing the Union's agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development and space policies, the Union and the Member States shall, since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals, while respecting the legislative or administrative provisions and customs of the Member States relating in particular to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage."

The importance of this is that it puts animal welfare on equal footing with other key principles mentioned in the same title i.e. promote gender equality, guarantee social protection, protect human health, combat discrimination, promote sustainable development, ensure consumer protection, protect personal data.

Animal welfare issues impact on many EU rules and laws. A strong and transparent regulatory framework on animal welfare also ensures that the EU maintains its status as a main food exporter and importer.

In the end, however, the European Commission does not have the power to enforce animal welfare legislation. It is up to the Member States to enforce the rules on animal welfare.

EU Strategy for the Welfare of Animals - 
mid-point review
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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.