In Strasbourg today, Swedish MEP Fredrick Federley, supported by 75 MEPs from 22 member states, asked health & food safety commissioner Vyenis Andriukaitis to publish a new EU Animal Welfare Strategy for 2016-2020 by the end of the year.
The MEPs also called on the Commission to incorporate the new strategy in the Commission’s work programme for 2016 and beyond. This question will be followed by a motion for a resolution in the coming weeks.
The members of the EC’s Animal Welfare Intergroup expressed their concerns about the lack of clarity and progress related to all ongoing and planned animal welfare dossiers.
According to the Intergroup, 11 of the 20 due action points in the current Animal Welfare Strategy have not been completed and are overdue when the strategy is due to expire at the end of this year. Despite numerous calls for clarity, the European Parliament has not received any answers and the responsible Commission department has been downsized.
The Intergroup said Europe was facing urgent animal welfare shortcomings and expressed concern over long-distance transportation, routine livestock procedures such as castration, certain slaughter practices it described as “cruel”, the intensification of farming systems and disregard for animal sentience.
“I'm very pleased with the broad support for animal welfare we have received from MEPs across party groups and member states,” said Federley. “Many Europeans are concerned regarding the health of animals in Europe. We can now send a clear message urging the Commission to put forward a new animal welfare strategy, including an animal welfare framework law.”
The Intergroup said over the past 30 years more than 30 basic acts relating to animal welfare have been adopted providing varying levels of protection for animals. “The Commission must now ensure that the next Animal Welfare Strategy will deliver legal recognition of animals as sentient beings, as required by Article 13 of the Treaty, and will translate this principle into all the existing legislative acts,” the group said in a statement.
Other key demands are the inclusion of better protection of all species and prevention of suffering; the phasing out of cage systems and what it described as “mutilations” in livestock farming; ending long distance transportation; providing objective information to consumers, developing animal welfare reference centres for better enforcement; the funding of alternative non-animal testing methods; and safeguarding existing and future animal welfare standards in all trade agreements.