Advocate General misses the point on alternatives to slaughter without stunning
10 September 2020
Today the Advocate General of the Court of Justice released its non-binding opinion on the possibility for EU Member States to adopt a national ban on the slaughter without stunning, following a request made by the Belgian Constitutional Court.
Animal welfare remains basically forgotten in today’s opinion not permitting Member States to adopt rules which provide both for a prohibition of the slaughter of animals without stunning, and for an alternative stunning procedure for the slaughter carried out in the context of a religious rite (i.e. reversible stunning).
Even if the final opinion depends on the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice, Eurogroup for Animals is concerned about this judgement. While so much emphasis is given to the freedom of religion enshrined in the Slaughter Regulation by Art 4.4., it does not equally consider the provision laid down in Article 26.2 (c), empowering Member States to adopt “national rules aimed at ensuring more extensive protection of animals at the time of killing than those contained in this Regulation in relation to […] the slaughtering and related operations of animals in accordance with Article 4.4” .
Despite the opinion seems favourable to the adoption by Member States of technical conditions which seek to minimise the suffering of animals at the time of killing, it is negative towards the adoption of reversible stunning, which would allow for the conservation of the rites while preserving the welfare animals.
Eurogroup for Animals and its members will continue working to make sure that all the animals will be properly stunned before being slaughtered.
Reineke Hameleers, CEO of Eurogroup for Animals
“In 2020 we should not think that, as cited in the opinion, animal welfare and religion ‘often sit uneasily’, as technology and best practice are there to guarantee that both values are respected at the same time”, commented Reineke Hameleers, CEO at Eurogroup for Animals.
Scientific evidence has unambiguously shown that slaughter without stunning is incompatible with the welfare of animals. It must also be noted that acceptance of stunning methods is increasing among religious communities, as demonstrated by the declaration made last year by Ismailaga Cemaati, the largest Islamic group in Turkey, announcing that stunning animals prior to slaughter is acceptable and Halal.
“This is just an opinion and in the past we witnessed that the CJEU rule can be different from the not-legally binding Advocate General advice. Eurogroup for Animals and its members will continue working to make sure that all the animals will be properly stunned before being slaughtered” added Hameleers.