Ministers from across Europe have been debating the merits of creating new laws to govern animal welfare. The move comes after Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden tabled a motion to create a new animal welfare platform.
But Copa-Cogeca, the EU farm body, has said the European establishment needs to “simplify” and “enforce” existing animal welfare laws.
“The focus must be on ensuring proper implementation and harmonisation of existing EU rules rather than creating new legislation,” said Copa-Cogeca secretary-general Pekka Pesonen.
“Future developments on animal welfare need to be on simplifying existing legislation, giving more flexibility to operators and reducing the high administrative costs they suffer. The link between this platform (work and coordination) and the Reference Centers also needs to be clarified.
“Despite the difficult market situation, we also want to highlight that farmers, together with other stakeholders, are already putting in place voluntary initiatives to improve animal welfare during transport to help economic operators in the sector assure an even higher level of animal welfare,” he added.
Livestock across the EU is protected under the European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes, amended under the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009. The statute enshrined in law the recognition that animals are sentient beings.
Pesonen, speaking after a high-level meeting of EU agriculture politicians on Tuesday 16 February, said Copa-Cogeca’s position on reducing animal welfare bureaucracy was supported by the status quo in Europe.
“Our views were backed in the Commission’s assessment of the Animal Welfare Strategy 2012-2015 and the European Parliament’s resolution voted on at the end of last year,” he said. “They stated that existing welfare legislation still needs to be correctly enforced throughout the EU and in a harmonised way across all member states.”
Pesonen also said he appreciated the concerns raised by some agriculture ministers over “lower welfare standards outside the EU and imports coming into the EU that do not have to meet the EU’s high and costly standards”.