From ‘Eurogroup for Animals’ – Brussels.
Our major wins for animals in 2020
23 December 2020
What a special year 2020 was – not only for the world, but also for animal welfare. With the many tough events we faced this year, we want to take a moment to acknowledge and look back on the positive sides and the success stories for animals in 2020.
With the adoption of the Green Deal and the Farm-to-Fork Strategy, the European Commission sent a strong message and put animal welfare back on the EU’s agenda in early May resulting in the European Commission performing a ‘fitness check’ of the current rules in place on animal welfare in 2021.
The European Parliament approved the setting up of a special Committee of Inquiry on animal live transportwhich is a crucial step towards making the revised Transport Regulation an effective tool to protect the welfare of animals transported within and outside the EU.
After hosting a high-level online event on labelling of animal products and the publication of our report on animal welfare and food labelling, we welcomed to see the Council setting the course for a comprehensive labelling system that displays the well-being of animals over the whole animal food production cycle in the adoption of Council Conclusions in December.
Next to our labelling report, we also published our report on broiler welfare – a groundbreaking new report presenting the first comprehensive scientific overview on the welfare of broiler chickens, showing improvements are feasible, urgent and should inform future EU legislation.
Groundbreaking news reached us in November when the European Parliament approved funding of a research project to find alternatives to high-concentration CO2 stunning or killing of pigs. Now the European Commission will invest 2 million Euro in applied research in an effort to move away from the inhumane procedure.
Lastly, we welcomed the Court of Justice of the European Union’s ruling which confirmed Member States’ right to introduce mandatory pre-slaughter stunning.
Companion Animals & Equines
While it is often agreed that our pets are not on the front stage when it comes to EU developments and protection, 2020 has set the scene for several strategic opportunities for dogs, cats and equids.
The Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and Eurogroup for Animals’ expert workshop “The Illegal Pet Trade: Game Over” took place on 21 April 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis and just a year before the EU Animal Health Law will take effect. 100 participants from European institutions, Member States, academia and the animal welfare sector debated this pressing issue. They explored the shortcomings of the control systems of the online pet trade that are currently in place and looked at best practices in how to better protect animals, consumers and ultimately taxpayers, including how these could be rolled out across Europe as a whole. All these outputs have been collected into a major publication, the “Illegal Pet Trade: Game Over report”, and was handovered soon after the release to Commissioner Kyriakides. On 27th November, Eurogroup for Animals had a pleasure to meet Claire Bury, Deputy Director General of DG SANTE, the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety of the European Commission.
Equines were not left aside. The seventh meeting of the EU Platform on Animal Welfare in June saw the announcement that the European Commission is to mandate a new reference centre for ruminants and equines. The 8th meeting of the PAW finally acknowledged the 3 documents Eurogroup for Animals developed with its member organisations, namely the Horse Guide, Donkey Guide and Horse Factsheets.
To counter the growing national calls to reduce the level of protection of large carnivores in the EU, member organisations joined forces to showcase the opinion of million citizens to keep protecting wolves.
In the aftermath of World Kangaroo Day, Eurogroup for Animals, with the support of the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals, held the event ‘Animal welfare in the EU-Australia trade negotiations and the EU’s role in commercial kangaroo hunting’.
Wildlife issues have been more than ever under the spotlight this year, mainly because of the pandemic and how the way we treat animals has an impact on zoonotic diseases.In the preparation of the release of the major EU Biodiversity Strategy, Eurogroup for Animals and its members started the Stop Pandemics Start here campaign to make sure the upcoming work of the EC will address the sources of pandemics; in other words, of we treat animals. As part of this major campaign, the keeping of exotic pets is a major issue. Earlier in June, we released the Updated legislative report on Positive List and we have launched an EP petition on exotic pet trade.
With the outbreak of the virus in several mink farms, we decided to seize the opportunity to call for an immediate closure of mink farms and sent our Joint Open letter to the EC on mink farming and COVID-19.
Animals in Science
On 22 September, 10 years after the Directive, we joined the celebration of the First European Day for Humane Science with our members and other NGOs to call the EU to really start the work for Humane science and the phase out of animal testing.
Following calls from EU authorities for cosmetics ingredients to be tested on animals, Europe’s leading animal protection groups have sent a joint statement to MEPs urging them to uphold the groundbreaking cosmetics testing and marketing bans.
On 28 June 2019, the EU and Mercosur announced the conclusion of an unprecedented free trade agreement (FTA). As the text grants more market access for animal products without any condition related to animal welfare or sustainability, it will further fuel the intensification of animal farming, both in the EU (dairy and pig meat) and in Mercosur countries (beef, chicken). In addition, the cooperation mechanisms put in place on animal welfare and on Trade and Sustainable Development are weak. They cannot be enforced in the absence of political willingness or resources. Subsequently, Eurogroup for Animals believes the EU-Mercosur agreement is a bad deal for animals.
Eurogroup for Animals called then for a renegotiationof the EU-Mercosur agreement and was satisfied to see the issues to be pushed back for further discussions.