Draft Impact Assessment – a good start for an ambitious legislation
20 April 2023
The draft Impact Assessment report on the revision of the EU’s animal welfare legislation, leaked today, reaffirms the European Commission’s aim of making the EU the global leader in animal protection.
In the Farm to Fork Strategy, the European Commission (EC) committed to revise all animal welfare legislation, to align it with the latest scientific evidence, broaden its scope and make it easier to enforce. The proposed measures are based on scientific recommendations provided by EFSA, the European Food Safety Agency, anchoring them in a strong evidence-base.
The proposals are expected by late September, however, the details of the Impact Assessment (IA) working document, as revealed by Agra Facts, are promising for the billions of animals involved.
The EC recognises that “Societal demands are not met – As identified in the Fitness Check, the trend is clear: many EU citizens pay increasing attention to animal welfare. A clear reflection of this is the ECI ‘End the Cage Age’ …. Ethical concerns are also raised against e.g. the systematic killing of male one-day old chicks and against long-distance animal transports and fur farming…..In addition, most EU citizens expect a more sustainable food production, i.e. less intensive farming and breeding systems.”
The impact assessment looks at 18 measures to improve the welfare of kept animals. Eurogroup for Animals particularly welcomes measures to:
Phase out of cages for all species
Increase space allowance for all species
Ban the systematic culling of male chicks
Introduce welfare requirements for the stunning of farmed fish
Ban cruel slaughter practices like water baths and CO2 for poultry and pigs
Ban mutilations, like beak trimming, tail docking, dehorning or surgical castration of pigs
Limited journey times for the transport of animals destined to slaughter
Apply the EU’s standards to imported animal products in a way that is compatible with WTO rules
We are also pleased to see that on fur farming the EC is acknowledging the serious welfare issues that a cage system causes to wild animals and is taking into consideration the 1.7 million voices calling for a Fur Free Europe.
The final Impact Assessment still has a long road to go before the actual proposals will be adopted, and we call on the Regulatory Scrutiny Board and Interservice Consultation to improve the proposals mainly with regards to shortening transition times to phase out cages and tightening the rules on live animal transport.
This is a very good start and reflects the decades of citizens campaigning and scientific evidence produced in the EU. In light of the results of the Impact Assessment, the EC must seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity and come forward with strong legislation that effectively improves the welfare of animals in Europe and globally. Ambitious legislation will benefit animals, citizens and farmers alike.
Reineke Hameleers, CEO of Eurogroup for Animals