Animal welfare: step up inspections and penalties to ensure compliance

Source: European Parliament (EP) i, published on Wednesday, March 17 2010, 13:44.

EU animal welfare rules must be more rigorously enforced, with more inspections and effective penalties, said the Agriculture Committee on Wednesday. It nonetheless welcomed a reduction in harmful antibiotics in animal feed, further to an EU ban.

The EU's 2006-2010 animal welfare action plan has not been unsatisfactorily implemented and existing rules should be better enforced before drawing up new ones, said the Agriculture Committee, which nonetheless called on the European Commission to propose without delay an action plan for 2011-2015, based on the results of the previous one, with adequate resources to implement it.

Imports must comply with EU rules

While reaffirming that the entry into force if the Lisbon Treaty means welfare requirements should be mainstreamed in all relevant EU policies, the committee proposes establishing a "common basic level of animal welfare" across the EU, to ensure fair competition in the single market.

At the same time, existing rules must be properly enforced, e.g. the ban on battery cages for hens, rules on pigs and those on transporting ducks and geese, said MEPs. To better enforce animal welfare legislation, the committee also said the EU budget should provide sufficient resources to allow Commission to carry out inspections and monitor progress in implementing legislation.

Animal products imported into the EU, such as meat, must also comply with animal welfare requirements, MEPs added.

Antibiotics: welcome progress

The committee welcomed the fact that reduced use in animal feed of growth-promoting antibiotics, since they were banned EU-wide in 2006, has in turn reduced injury to human health. Nevertheless, to sustain public health protection, MEPs asked the Commission to investigate further the use of animal health products and examine the issue of growing antibiotic resistance in animals.

A European network for animal welfare

The committee also advocated a European network for animal welfare, as foreseen in a Commission communication of October 2009. This network should use existing structures in the Commission or Member States, to co-ordinate and provide assistance, including providing training to food chain players and facilitating the testing of new techniques.

The resolution on the European Commission action plan for animal welfare for 2006-2010 (EP rapporteur Marit Paulsen i, EPP, SE), was approved with 37 votes in favour, 7 against and 3 abstentions.

Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development

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