FOREIGN AGRICULTURAL SERVICE
EU Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2006-2010
On January 23, 2006, the European Commission adopted the Community Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals. This Action Plan includes a 5-year legislative work plan (2006-2010) that outlines EU policy initiatives for implementing animal welfare principles in all EU sectors and in relations with third countries. Animal welfare principles are set out by the Protocol on the Protection and Welfare of Animals annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam (in force since May 1999). The Protocol recognizes that animals are sentient beings and stipulates that "In formulating and implementing the Community's agriculture, transport, internal market and research policies, the Community and the Member States shall pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals, while respecting the legislative or administrative provisions and customs of the Member States relating in particular to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage."
The Action Plan provides initiatives in 5 broad areas of animal welfare for the 2006-2010 period:
A detailed work plan for executing the objectives of the Action Plan is included in the Commission's Communication to the European Parliament and the Council.
Animal Welfare Labeling
On October 28, 2009, the European Commission published its long awaited report outlining a series of policy options for animal welfare labeling. The report also considers the possible establishment of a "European Network of Reference Centers for the Protection and Welfare of Animals" (ENRC). The ENRC would provide technical support for the development and implementation of a variety of animal welfare policies including labeling and certification. The state objective of both initiatives is not to raise animal welfare standards as such but to increase consumer understanding of animal welfare and provide an incentive to producers to increase the welfare of animals. The Commission report does not endorse any of the animal welfare labeling options but identifies legislative and non-legislative options which are considered to be the most feasible at this stage. The finding presented in the report will now form the basis for an in-depth debate between the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament. For detailed information on the Commission report see: Animal Welfare Labeling -European Commission Report (GAIN report E49084 - November 19, 2009)
Welfare Quality Project
The EU is also funding the “Welfare Quality” project about the integration of animal welfare in the food quality chain. The project focuses on 3 main species and their products: cattle (beef and dairy), pigs, and poultry (broiler chickens and laying hens). The research program is designed to develop European standards for on-farm welfare assessment and product information systems as well as practical strategies for improving animal welfare. The project started in May 2004 and will take five years to complete. For more information see www.welfarequality.net/everyone/36059.
Publication of first European protocols for assessing farm animal
welfare (published October 2009)