Strategy for the protection and welfare of animals
Report on the European Union Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2012–2015
This non-legislative report by Marit PAULSEN (ALDE, SE) was written for and adopted by the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.
The report welcomes the Commission’s Communication COM(2012)0006 on the Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2012-2015. It may be seen as a means to create harmonisation of animal welfare throughout the EU.
The report suggests that public health and the productivity and competitiveness of the livestock sector in Europe are intrinsically linked to animal welfare. However, there is great disparity between laws and legislation in this field across the EU, and the level of implementation is also variable. Hence a new approach to animal welfare, based on science and proven experience which has been acquired over recent years, as well as legislation that is easy to understand and easy to control, is greatly welcomed.
The New Strategy
The author of the report appreciates the broad approach taken by the Commission. It covers the welfare of pets and notes that 95% of domestic animals in the EU are handled by farmers, together with transporters, inspectors and veterinarians. However, the report regrets that the Commission has as yet failed to perceive the link between animal welfare and public health. The ‘One Health’ approach should be applied to this Strategy for the protection and welfare of animals, for good animal welfare will reduce the spread of diseases and antimicrobial resistance.
Policy Coherence and Coordination of Finances
The report notes that animal welfare is not a discretionary issue for the Commission. Article 13 of the Treaty obliges the EU and Member States to pay full regard to the welfare of animals.
Animal welfare should be given greater attention in the Consumer Policy, Framework Programmes for research, in the Common Agricultural Policy and Trade Policy, which will promote EU standards in third countries.
Furthermore, imbalances in the financials of the food chain can leave farmers at a financial disadvantage. This clearly can lead to problems arising in animal welfare.
The lack of a clearly defined budget to implement this strategy is a source of serious concern. It is hoped that the Commission will make every effort to increase the means available for animal welfare in Europe.
Animal Welfare Tomorrow
New developments and the latest in scientific understanding should form the basis for the Animal Welfare Strategy and legislation. The importance of the EU’s Welfare Quality Project is noted.
Lack of compliance with and enforcement of the legislation is the major obstacle to the improvement of animal welfare. Clearly defined milestones need to be set in the transitional periods of legislation, and inspectors should be deployed such that compliance can be measured end effected. Punishment after infringement is not sufficient.
Member States should also invest in proper training for animal welfare inspectors.
Transparency is also an important tool, allowing information, such as “naming and shaming” those who do not comply, to be made public.
In order to create comprehensive, universal standards for animal welfare, the report suggests that training and information guides which are clear and comprehensive are made available for animal handlers. These guides should contain legislation and scientific supporting evidence and should be made available at regional and local levels.
EU and Animal Welfare and Framework Law
The Commission’s Communication contained Parliament’s idea of a European Animal Welfare Framework Law. The basic concepts of such a law – based on science – should be clarity, simplification and practical applicability. Such a law would also increase competitiveness, both internally and with third countries, and improve the quality of animal products as a result. It would also ensure that individuals would be held responsible for the welfare of animals at each stage of the chain. The Framework Law would clarify the regulations and standards for training etc., but it would be the responsibility of the Member States to ensure correct implementation.
The European Parliament voted to approve the report on the 4th July 2012 with 574 for, 82 against and 17 abstentions.
To read the report click here
Alternatively visit the website at www.europarl.europa.eu
Last Updated (Thursday, 20 September 2012 14:21)