EU Launches Animal Welfare Strategy 2012-2015

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Posted on: 29 Jun 2012

On January 19, 2012, a Communication from the Commission announced the new EU Animal Welfare Strategy for 2012-2015.

THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICY Voluntary Public - Date: 6/20/2012 GAIN Report Number: E70025 EU-27 Post: Brussels USEU EU Launches Animal Welfare Strategy 2012-2015 Report Categories: Livestock and Products Policy and Program Announcements Approved By: Cynthia Guven Prepared By: Yvan Polet Report Highlights: On January 19, 2012, a Communication from the Commission announced the new EU Animal Welfare Strategy for 2012-2015. This new animal welfare strategy succeeds the Community Action Plan on the protection and welfare of animals (2006-2010). The aim of this new strategy is to improve the implementation and enforcement of existing animal welfare legislation, which has less than ideal. A case in point is the poor implementation of the 2012 ban of conventional cages for laying hens. Further, the new strategy aims to broaden the scope of EU animal welfare standards, both domestically and in the international arena. General Information: On January 19, 2012, a ―Communication from the Commission” [1] announced the EU Animal Welfare Strategy for 2012 – 2015. This new strategy is a continuation of the ―Community Action Plan on the protection and welfare of animals (2006-2010).‖ [2] This new animal welfare (AW) strategy hinges on four principles: 1 The use of scientific outcome-based AW indicators. Such indicators are expected to be scientifically validated through research like the Welfare Quality® [3] project. After a risk assessment, the indicators will be incorporated into existing AW legislation, thereby allowing more flexibility to improve competitiveness of livestock producers. This will also allow the indicators to be more easily recognized internationally by bodies such as the OIE. 2 A new EU framework will increase transparency. Under the new framework, consumers will have a better guarantee that AW claims are transparent and scientifically relevant. An EU label on AW is suggested that would carry information about farm production standards of covered products. 3 The establishment of a European network of reference centers. Mirroring the network of reference centers for animal health, these centers will provide technical support to the operations for AW indicators. These reference centers may also coordinate and disseminate information on research and innovations through training courses for operators. 4 Common requirements for competence of personnel handling animals. Prescribed mandatory training will help improve operators’ knowledge of legal obligations and their ability to identify, prevent and/or limit animals’ pain, suffering and distress. Such training will also contribute to improving the harmonized application of existing requirements, as well as increasing harmonization of processes, facilities and equipment for handling animals. Implementing these four principles in the EU Animal Welfare Strategy for 2012 – 2015, the EU seeks to strengthen the influence of its AW policy in the following areas: Member States' compliance—through better guidelines and implementing tools, like the creation of working groups on enforcement and more stringent infringement proceedings; International cooperation—by actively incorporating AW into all EU bilateral, regional and multilateral policies and agreements; Consumer and public awareness—by providing appropriate educational information on AW; Animal welfare link to the Common Agriculture Policy—by including AW conditions on Pillar 1 support through the ―cross compliance‖ and including AW in the rural development programs under Pillar 2; Farmed fish—by reviewing the welfare of farmed fish. A list of actions for the coming years under this new strategy is included below. Further information on the new AW strategy and related events are available on a dedicated EU webpage [4] . Background and Preparatory Actions At the final stage of the Community Action Plan on the protection and welfare of animals (2006-2010), the EU ordered an evaluation in preparation of its next multi-annual plan. This ―Evaluation of the EU policy on animal welfare‖ [5] (EUPAW), which was released in December 2010, identified the following problem areas: 1 Lack of enforcement of EU legislation by the Member States. A most striking example of this is the implementation of the ban on conventional cages for layer hens, where 13 out of 27 Member States (MS) have failed to meet the January 1, 2012 deadline despite a twelve-year lag in implementation. A similar failure is expected for the sow stall ban which comes into effect on January 1, 2013. 2 Failure to provide consumers with appropriate information on animal welfare. The EU has not done enough to educate consumers about the value of AW and the inherent costs. Consequently, consumers have failed to appreciate the price differential between animal-welfare- friendly and conventional production. This has led to prevailing price structures that do not fully account for the added costs. 3 Many stakeholders lack adequate knowledge of animal welfare. Large sections of the EU food chain (farmers to retailers) have not adopted AW requirements into their production or that of their suppliers. 4 A need to simplify and develop clear principles for animal welfare. Many see the aforementioned shortcomings as direct results of an overly-prescriptive AW legislation that is proving too costly and too difficult to implement. In preparation for its new AW strategy, the EU launched several activities, including an international conference and a survey that was reported in GAIN report, New Animal Welfare Strategy 2011- 2015_Brussels USEU_EU-27_12-17-2010 [6] . Under the auspices of its Rapporteur Marit Paulsen, the European Parliament (EP) issued its own evaluation report [7] on the Action plan 2006-2010. In her report, MEP Paulsen urged the EU to vigorously promote AW as a non-trade concern in the WTO. The report also recommended that the EU develop a general AW law, which would apply to all livestock and animals in captivity, such as pets, strays, and zoo and circus animals. Comment In a reaction to the Commission EU Animal Welfare Strategy 2012-2015 document, the European Parliament (EP) Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) published an own initiative Opinion [8] , sponsored by Dutch MEP Kartika Liotard, suggesting that the new EU strategy include additional AW aspects. In Article 9, the Opinion specifically requests the inclusion of additional legislative proposals, of which the most important are: - Revision of Regulation 1/2005, including a proposal to limit the duration of transport of farmed animals to 8 hours supported by a petition with over 1 100 000 signatories; - A legislative proposal introducing a ban on cloning and on the placing on the market of products from clones and their offspring; - A legislative proposal introducing a ban on the genetic modification of animals and on the placing on the market of products from genetically modified animals and their offspring. However, the EP Committee on Agriculture (AGRI) did not include these suggestions from the ENVI Committee in its own Report, which was adopted on June 19, 2012. Impact on U.S. Agricultural Exports While the EU Animal Welfare Strategy 2012-2015 is not expected to have direct impact on U.S. agricultural exports, the threat remains from EU animal producers who insist on a ―level playing field‖ against imports, which will likely lead to an EC imposition of AW labeling requirements. If the EP plenary decides to adopt the opinion of the ENVI Committee despite a lack of support from the AGRI Committee, it could lead to an important extension of the coverage of the AW strategy, banning products of animal cloning or genetically modified animals from the EU market. An even greater threat comes from the EU exporting its AW philosophy and standards to the international arena, at all levels. As an example of the EU’s successful efforts in this area, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) organized its ―1st FAO Global Multi-stakeholder Forum on Animal Welfare‖ in Brussels on March 1-2, 2012, on the heels of an EU conference on its new AW strategy. More directly, it has become EU policy to systematically include an AW component in all Free Trade Agreements (FTA) and Veterinary Equivalency Agreements (VEA) that it concludes with other countries on trade in agricultural products. Earlier reports from FAS/USEU on EU animal welfare policies are listed below. Related reports from FAS EU E60074 EU reviews Regulation on Animal Welfare during transportation 12/16/2011 E60042 Implementation of Animal Welfare Directives in the EU 07/14/2011 E57009 New Animal Welfare Strategy, 2011-2015 12/17/2010 E49084 Animal Welfare Labeling 11/19/2009 E49028 EC engages on Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare 03/24/2009 These reports can be accessed through the FAS website [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] 2015_Brussels%20USEU_EU-27_12-17-2010.pdf [7] [8] 486.180%2b03%2bDOC%2bPDF%2bV0%2f%2fEN
Posted: 29 June 2012

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