24th Mar 2018


EU must step up action to improve animal welfare

  • We need a new EU Strategy on animal welfare, argue the agriculture and food ministers from Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark (Photo: caese)

Our common goal is to improve animal welfare in Europe.

Not only is there strong support among European citizens, but we are obliged by the treaty to pay full regard to animal welfare requirements in a range of EU policies.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • The most urgent topics are to reduce the number of tail-docked pigs, abolish the painful surgical castration of piglets and increase group housing. (Photo: Notat)

Small steps lead to the right direction. Now is the time to take more.

Our advocacy for a new platform for animal welfare at EU-level, bringing stakeholders together, will be a powerful tool to strengthen animal welfare.

We need tools like a new EU strategy on animal welfare to work together. But updated and Improved legislation is also needed.

We have already provided important suggestions regarding animal transport and pig welfare.

It's now time for the European Commission to take action.

The recently published Eurobarometer survey clearly shows a growing interest in animal welfare among European citizens.

In order to reflect the views of European citizens, it is important to improve animal welfare in the EU.

Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands have cooperated since 2014 to promote animal welfare in the EU.

The so-called ‘Vught declaration’ states that current welfare legislation on husbandry, transport and the slaughter of animals must be enforced in a stricter and more harmonised manner.

It also underlines that some of the current provisions need to be adjusted to reflect the latest technical and socio-economic trends and scientific findings.

Cooperation for animal welfare

The collaboration between the three countries was extended further in April 2015 when Sweden joined an initiative highlighting standards for the protection of pigs.

In a position, we urge the commission to amend EU legislation on pigs.

It is urgent to reduce the number of tail-docked pigs, abolish the painful surgical castration of piglets and increase group housing.

One way to improve animal welfare in the EU is through legislation, but other tools are equally important.

In order to ensure the coordinated action of different parts of society, we propose an EU platform on animal welfare.

The aim is to encourage national, regional and local initiatives across Europe, this platform has been well received by other Member States.

The recently announced platform from the commission, to be set up in Spring next year, will facilitate the exchange of experiences and best practices and highlight initiatives to promote animal welfare.

It may also provide a forum to discuss animal welfare standards and the improvement of and enforcement of existing legislation.

We would also like to stress that implementing existing EU legislation is a matter of solidarity and crucial for achieving fair competition in the internal market.

It is our strong belief that the EU platform on animal welfare in the long term will contribute to a more uniform and transparent regulation.

Welfare only through working together

Cooperation is key to improving animal welfare.

In order to promote and improve animal welfare at a global level, bilateral trade agreements, international standards and technical support to developing countries remain important.

Improving animal welfare also promotes healthy animals and decreases the need for antibiotic treatment of animals.

This is crucial since antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has become a critical issue of global importance.

Resistant bacteria doesn't care about political or national borders, nor borders between animal and human health sectors.

We need an all-encompassing approach and collaboration between sectors in this fight.

Proper use of antibiotics is key for the agricultural sector's contribution to fight AMR.

Healthy animals do not need antibiotics.

Antibiotics are too important to be used to mask bad housing or management conditions for animals.

Good animal husbandry plays a vital role to bring down the antibiotic need in the agricultural sector.

The commission has put a lot of effort into AMR issues, and the action plan from 2011, as well as the on-going evaluation and work on a foreseeable new action plan, is highly appreciated.

We want to stress the importance of continuing efforts to preserve the possibility of effective treatment of infections in both animals and humans.

We must do more than make laws

The proposal for a new regulation for official controls and other official activities includes the designation of the European Union reference centres for animal welfare.

A network of such centres should support the activities of the commission and provide an important and additional way to improve animal welfare in the Union.

Animal welfare in the EU needs to be strengthened, but to do this we have to use all the tools available.

The commission must continue its legislative work, but up-to-date legislation cannot stand alone.

Animal welfare in practice is strongly dependent on the extent to which provisions are implemented in the Member States.

We also need to develop further cooperation between stakeholders.

We are fully committed to the establishment of the platform and look forward to contributing to its success.

Sven-Erik Bucht is Sweden's minister for rural affairs, Martijn van Dam is Netherlands' minister for agriculture, Christian Schmidt is Germany's federal minister of food and agriculture and Esben Lunde Larsen is Denmark's minister for environment and food.

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.

EU tightens up animal testing rules

MEPs agreed on Wednesday to overhaul 20-year-old EU rules on the protection of animals used in scientific or medical experiments, significantly limiting the number of animals used in this way and the kind of experiments that can be performed.

'Denial' - is meat the new climate change?

The European Parliament's agriculture committee meets on Tuesday, with speculation that the EPP will vote against a report on the EU plant protein plan if it mentions switching away from animals to plant-based diets.

Moria refugee camp is no place for people

Two years on from the highly-controversial EU-Turkey deal, many thousands of refugees are still trapped on Greek islands. One of them offers an open invitation to EU leaders to see their inhospitable conditions at the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos.

'Denial' - is meat the new climate change?

The European Parliament's agriculture committee meets on Tuesday, with speculation that the EPP will vote against a report on the EU plant protein plan if it mentions switching away from animals to plant-based diets.

News in Brief

  1. EU wants 'Paris' climate strategy within 13 months
  2. Workload of EU court remains high
  3. Spain's supreme court charges Catalan separatist leaders
  4. EU calls for 'permanent' exemption from US tariffs
  5. Summit backs guidelines for future EU-UK talks
  6. Macron support drops as public sector workers go on strike
  7. EU leaders condemn Turkey for illegal actions in Aegean Sea
  8. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. Nordic states discuss targeted Russia sanctions
  2. Commission sticks to its line on Barroso case
  3. Germany and France promise new Russia sanctions
  4. EU rejects US trade 'gun to the head'
  5. Tariffs and Turkey will top This WEEK
  6. EU leaders roll over Brexit talks amid Trump and Russia fears
  7. Europe needs corporate tax reform - a digital tax isn't it
  8. EU data chiefs rally behind UK over Cambridge Analytica

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  2. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  3. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework
  4. Mission of China to the EUDigital Cooperation a Priority for China-EU Relations
  5. ECTACompetition must prevail in the quest for telecoms investment
  6. European Friends of ArmeniaTaking Stock of 30 Years of EU Policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: How Can the EU Contribute to Peace?
  7. ILGA EuropeCongratulations Finland!
  8. UNICEFCyclone Season Looms Over 720,000 Rohingya Children in Myanmar & Bangladesh
  9. European Gaming & Betting AssociationEU Court: EU Commission Correct to Issue Guidelines for Online Gambling Services
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina Hopes for More Exchanges With Nordic, Baltic Countries
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementCondemns Facebook for Actively Promoting Anti-Macedonian Racism
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal Seed Vault: Gene Banks Gather to Celebrate 1 Million Seed Collections