Saturday

15th Dec 2018

EU to review animal welfare strategy

  • Animal welfare is improving in the EU, but implementation of EU rules is slow, say auditors (Photo: European Parliament)

The European Commission is going to evaluate its animal welfare strategy, it has said in response to a report by the European Court of Auditors published on Wednesday (14 November).

The review of the strategy comes almost three years after the European Parliament asked for it.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • 'The guidelines on pig welfare and on the protection of animals at slaughter were also delayed due to lengthy discussions with stakeholders,' said the auditors (Photo: European Parliament)

The auditors said in their report that animal welfare in the EU has improved, but that member states were slow to implement recommendations from the commission.

One example of slow implementation was found in France.

In 2010, the EU commission had recommended that French inspectors use better equipment to check conditions of animals' environment on farms and during transport.

According to French legal requirements already in place since 2000, inspectors were supposed to have specialised equipment to make measurements.

"The French authorities had not, however, procured all the required equipment by the time of our audit," the auditors wrote.

"During our visit to a laying hens farm certified as free-range, where the presence of ammonia inside the building was evident, the French inspector did not have the necessary equipment to measure the level of gas concentration. The inspector noted in the inspection report that the related requirement had been met," they added.

Following the auditors' visit, French authorities told the EU commission in spring 2018 that they had bought measurement equipment.

"However, inspectors were only asked to use this on farms raising chickens for meat," the report said.

Meanwhile, Romania had been told several times between 2009 and 2011 that it needed to have legal sanctions in place for those who broke EU animal welfare rules.

"At the time of our audit, the Romanian authorities had not yet approved the necessary changes in the legislation to apply such sanctions," said the report.

A review, finally

The EU's animal welfare strategy was published in 2012, and was specifically designed for the period 2012-2015.

However, some of the proposed measures were delayed until after 2015, and the commission has not published a new strategy paper since.

On 26 November 2015, the European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution urging the commission "to evaluate the existing strategy and to draw up a new and ambitious strategy for the protection and welfare of animals for the 2016-2020 period in order to build on the work of the previous strategy and ensure the continuation of a framework for delivering high animal welfare standards across the member states".

In March 2016, a group of northern and western European ministers also called for new rules to improve animal welfare standards.

The European Court of Auditors said in a report out on Wednesday that the commission had not assessed if the strategy had achieved its goals.

"There are no baseline indicators or target indicators to measure how far the strategy objectives have been achieved and the commission had not yet evaluated the results of its actions as requested by the European parliament," said the report.

In response, the commission acknowledged that, and said that it planned to perform an evaluation of the strategy.

"Its actions have not yet been evaluated since they were completed only by early 2018, and therefore, the impact of all actions has not yet materialised," the commission said.

Improvements, but slowly

The report stated that there were "still some significant discrepancies between the animal welfare standards established in the EU legislation and the reality on the ground".

They audited the situation in Germany, France, Italy, Poland, and Romania.

"The member states visited generally followed the European Commission's recommendations, sometimes took a long time to address them," auditor Janusz Wojchiechowski told journalists in a briefing on Tuesday.

He did not want to say whether the commission should introduce a new animal welfare strategy.

"This is not our role, to suggest or recommend to have a new strategy," he noted.

The report stated that some of the measures announced in the 2012 strategy, like the publication of EU guidelines on the protection of animals during transport had been delayed by up to five years.

"The guidelines on pig welfare and on the protection of animals at slaughter were also delayed due to lengthy discussions with stakeholders," the report said.

"Most reports were based on external studies, which were sometimes delayed due to lack of staff at the commission to manage the procurement process and review draft content," it continued.

Opinion

Long-distance animal transport: unthinkable still happening

A complete overhaul of animal products' supply chains is needed, privileging local food chains including local slaughtering which is proven to benefit the environment, the resilience of our economy, food safety and animal welfare.

EU 'must frame new animal welfare rules'

Ministers from northern and western European states have called for a new EU-wide strategy, but the EU commission says there is a lack of broad support for more rules.

Stakeholder

Help consumers take cruelty away from EU's Xmas buffet

Will commissioners Phil Hogan and Vytenis Andriukaitis help consumers take cruelty away from the EU's Christmas buffet? Some 80 MEPs have asked the EU commission to delete the requirement of minimum liver weights for foie gras

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders endorse creation of eurozone budget
  2. Selmayr has no comment on MEPs' call to resign
  3. May had 'robust' discussion with Juncker
  4. UK to continue talks on EU 'assurances'
  5. EU invests €20m in AI software for self-driving cars
  6. Belgian PM 'not optimistic', urges 'no deal' Brexit preparedness
  7. Romanian president expects no Brexit summit in January
  8. Swedish MPs reject Lofven to lead new government

Stakeholder

COP24 Nordic Pavilion: sharing climate solutions with the world

The Nordic Pavilion at COP24 is dedicated to dialogue – TalaNordic – about key themes regarding the transition to a low-carbon society, such as energy, transport, urban futures, the circular economy and green financing.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. No more Brexit talks, despite May's pleas
  2. EU leaders stuck on asylum reform
  3. Orban and other PMs spread fake news, says Juncker
  4. Fishing quota and no-deal Brexit preparation This WEEK
  5. Kosovo has right to own army, Germany and US say
  6. EU needs election-meddling stress tests
  7. Russian and US obstruction was 'insult' to climate scientists
  8. EU-27 unimpressed by May, offer little on Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us