Europeans want farm animal welfare

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Eurogroup for Animals: time for the EU to "deliver the results so many wish to see"
Eurogroup for Animals: time for the EU to "deliver the results so many wish to see"

Related tags Animal welfare European union European parliament Eu Beef Lamb Pork Poultry

An overwhelming majority of European citizens want the political establishment to do more to improve the welfare of animals slaughtered for human consumption, according to a public opinion survey by Eurobarometer. 

Eurogroup for Animals​, in conjunction with the European Parliament’s Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals, has called on the EU to heed the voice of its citizens and develop a comprehensive animal welfare strategy.

The Eurobarometer survey was conducted after Eurogroup for Animals​ asked the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, to test public opinion on the issue of animal welfare.

It found that more than four out of five EU citizens wanted to see improvements made in the welfare of farm animals. Roughly 90% of respondents said they were in favour of ensuring that countries importing meat to the EU adhered to the same welfare standards as those in Europe – in stark contrast to what is happening with the Brazil-EU horsemeat saga.

Eurobarometer 2016 Infography - Eurogroup for Animals
Eurobarometer 2016 Infographic from Eurogroup for Animals

‘Joint responsibility’

Interestingly, more than half of the consumers surveyed said they looked for animal welfare labels when shopping, with nearly six in 10 willing to pay more for higher-welfare meat.

Without doubt, citizens do not see animal welfare only as a regional, national or a European preserve, but instead see it as a joint responsibility,​” said Janusz Wojciechowski MEP, president of the European Parliamentary Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals.
Moreover, they recognise the role that businesses and individuals can play by driving improvements through the marketplace, and want to be given the tools to make informed purchases.​”

His comment came after a meeting on Tuesday 15 March, when 60 decision-makers met to discuss the future of animal welfare policy just days after the EU formerly adopted the Animal Health Law​.

Build on report

Concern for the welfare of animals is ​[an] important common value for EU citizens – there is no doubt about that,​” said Reineke Hameleers, director of Eurogroup for Animals on the Eurobarometer result.

Now it is time for the Commission to react. Not simply to take note of the views of citizens, but to actually deliver the results so many wish to see. We trust that the overwhelming support for animal welfare will convince the College of Commissioners to formulate a new ambitious animal welfare strategy for 2016-2020, in line with the Resolution from the European Parliament last December.

After all, at a time when many parts of the European electorate feel distanced and alienated from the machinations of Brussels, here is an opportunity for the Commission to undertake a range of actions in an area that resonates in the hearts of so many. Citizens want a Europe that cares for animals. Now we should get on and build it.​”

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