EU Makes Progress on Animal Welfare

EU - The European Parliament is making good progress on animal welfare but there is still more to do.
calendar icon 6 May 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

More frequent inspections and tougher penalties will be needed to enforce the next EU Animal Welfare Action Plan, says a resolution adopted by Parliament on 5 May. The current 2006-10 plan has worked well, in particular the measures taken to reduce harmful antibiotics in animal feed, but there is still room for improvement, say Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

A high level of animal welfare – from breeding to slaughter – can improve product safety and quality, to the benefit of all EU consumers, argues Parliament, and welfare requirements should be mainstreamed into all relevant EU policies.

The resolution, drafted by Marit Paulsen (ALDE, SE) was approved on 5 May by a show of hands, reviews the Commission action plan for animal welfare for 2006-2010 and suggests improvements for the next plan.

Enforcement the first step

First and foremost, Parliament emphasises the need to enforce properly the existing rules, such as the ban on battery cages for hens and the rules on the protection of pigs and the transport of geese and ducks. EU budget funding is needed to enable the Commission to monitor implementation of the law.

MEPs add that animal products imported into the EU, such as meat, must also comply with welfare requirements.

For the future, MEPs call on the EU executive to propose general animal welfare legislation "to achieve a common understanding of the concept of animal welfare, the associated costs and the fundamental conditions applicable". In addition, it proposes laying down a "common basic level of animal welfare" across the EU to ensure fair competition in the single market.

Progress on antibiotics

Parliament welcomes the decline in the use of growth-promoting antibiotics since an EU-wide ban was introduced in 2006 to protect human health. However, MEPs ask the Commission to investigate the use of animal health products further and to study the growing resistance to antibiotics in animals.

European network for animal welfare

Parliament also backs the idea of a European network for animal welfare, as envisaged in a Commission paper of October 2009. This could help provide assistance, including training to food chain actors, and facilitate the testing of new techniques.

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