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Latest developments on the new EU Animal Welfare Strategy

Eurogroup is very pleased that Members of the European Parliament at the last Agriculture Committee have broadly adopted the lead draft report by Marit Paulsen MEP on the European Union Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2012-2015. The report highlights many of the aspects, which were vaguely or not considered in the European Commission’s communication, recalling that the Lisbon Treaty makes explicit reference to animal welfare and thus should be given equal importance as the environment or consumer protection.

The report further emphasises the need for stronger enforcement of existing legislation, the introduction of new rules on labeling as well as the need for EU trade partners to apply the same animal welfare standards to imported products.

To see the report, click here. For more details, click here

On the Council side, European Agriculture Ministers adopted on 18 June Council Conclusions relating to the EU Animal Welfare Strategy and the protection of animals during transport. This is a positive step forward as the strategy lays down the EU policy activities for future years ensuring that animal welfare in Europe corresponds to the views of Europeans with regard to the way animals are treated. This vote further sends a strong message to the Commission that the EU needs to work hard and continue improving animal welfare.

Full details can be found here

The next step is this week's European Parliament’s plenary vote on Wednesday 4 July in Strasbourg. Stay tuned for details on our website: www.eurogroupforanimals.org

Update on the upcoming ban on sow stalls

Just 6 months until the ban comes into force, the latest available data disclosed by the European Commission show that 13 EU member countries will not be ready to move to group housing of sows by the 1 January 2013 deadline.

Going further into details, the figures show that 14 Member States (Luxembourg, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Ireland, UK, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta and Slovakia) should be complying by 31 December 2012 and 9 countries should be partially complying (between 78 and 95%). France, Portugal and Spain have no forecast and Italy refused to disclose its figures.

Update on compliance with Laying Hens Directive

The European Commission sent on 21 June a reasoned opinion to 10 Member States, which have failed to correctly implement Directive 1999/74/EC laying down minimum standards for the protection of laying hens, including a ban on the use of unenriched cages for laying hens.

Yet, Belgium, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland and Portugal still allow the use of such cages despite the ban which came into in January 2012, for which they have had 12 years to prepare.

For full details, click here

8 hours petition handed over to Commissioner John Dalli

Animal welfare organisations, including several members of Eurogroup, accompanied with 9 MEPs, handed over the 8 hours’ petition to Commissioner for Health and Consumers John Dalli. This petition has been signed by more than 1.1 million people and calls for the transport of live animals on their way to slaughter to be no more than 8 hours.

More details can be found on the European Parliament’s Animal Welfare Intergroup website here

Memorandum to the Cypriot Presidency of the EU Council

As the new Presidency of the EU Council kicks off, Eurogroup for Animals published a memorandum spelling out the key priorities in animal welfare to act upon for the second half of 2012.

No major legislative initiative with regard to animal welfare is expected during this term. The Cypriot Presidency is expected to focus its action particularly on the enforcement of the legislation.

To read Eurogroup’s memorandum, click here

EU-US partnership on organic trade enters into force

From June 1, 2012, organic products certified as organic in the European Union may be sold as organic in the USA without additional certification requirements – and vice versa - as the historic partnership on organic trade signed between the world's two largest organic-producers on 15 February 2012 enters into force.

The EU and U.S. will also begin to work on a series of cooperation initiatives to promote organic production and tackle important topics such as animal welfare and other issues. Both programs will share technical information and best practices on an ongoing basis to further enhance the integrity of organic crops and livestock production systems.

For more information, click here

On that topic, member organisation CIWF expressed its extreme concern and disappointment to learn that the EU has recognised the US National Organic Programme as equivalent to its own, for the main reason that as it stands now, the US organic standards on animal welfare are far lower than the EU standards.

For more information, click here

Trade agreement negotiations with Vietnam launched

As the trade negotiations between the EU and Vietnam have just been launched, Eurogroup for Animals welcomes the news as a new opportunity to allow the issue of animal welfare and trade to be discussed and ensure that standards are raised in Vietnam with the support of the EU to a level equivalent with European standards.

Read our full press release here

Towards a greener EU Environment Action Plan

The European Council published Conclusions on 11 June in favour of a strong Environment Programme which state that the 7th EAP should link with the EU sustainability strategy and integrate environmental protection in all EU policies including agriculture and trade.

Eurogroup welcomes the news and issued a statement urging the Commission that it must take note and make sure that sustainable consumption and production are boosted by among other things promoting green public procurement and sustainable food production with high standards of animal health and welfare.

To read our full statement, click here

The Council’s Conclusions can be found here

Revision of the Regulation on the non-commercial movement of pet animals

A proposed Regulation on the non-commercial movement of pet animals has been published by the European Commission (COM(2012) 89), to repeal and replace Regulation (EC) No. 998/2003. This is the Regulation that requires dogs, cats and ferrets to be vaccinated against rabies, identified and accompanied by a pet passport when moving between Member States. The proposal is currently being discussed by the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament.

After receiving comments from our members, Eurogroup has now finalised our briefing paper on this Regulation.

The briefing outlines our four ‘key demands’ as well as further considerations and can be found here

Guidelines to assess fitness for transport of adult bovines

So far published in English, German, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian, the “Practical Guidelines to assess fitness for transport of adult bovines” will soon be available in 13 languages in total, thanks to the support of the European Commission.

These voluntary guidelines are the result of a close cooperation between Eurogroup for Animals, Animals’ Angels, UECBV (Livestock and Meat Trading Union), FVE (Federation of Veterinarians of Europe), IRU (International Road Transport Union) and ELT (European Livestock Transporters) and are designed to provide easy to understand help and advice to professionals involved in the transport of adult bovines and aim to improve animal welfare throughout the transport process.

For more information about the guidelines, please contact UECBV

Report shows appalling conditions in transport of chickens

A shocking report delivered by animal welfare organisation Eyes on Animals reveals the appalling situation endured by hens and broilers during transport to slaughter.

For full details and to read the report which also includes recommendations, click here

Obligatory animal tests for GM food and feed are unnecessary and a step backwards

At meeting of the Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) on 15 June, Eurogroup for Animals called on the European Commission and Member States to reconsider the obligatory requirement for 90-day feeding trials for GMOs in implementing rules currently being discussed.

The inclusion of this test goes against the latest scientific advice from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published in January this year which states that it should only be carried out on a case-by-case basis as determined by EFSA itself, which has so far been the case.

For full details, click here

The opinion by EFSA can be found here

European Conference on endocrine disruptors

In 1999, the European Commission developed a strategy on endocrine disruptors. The Commission is now considering revising their strategy and organised a 2 day conference in Brussels on the 11-12 June where discussions focused on determining where and when testing would be required as a endocrine disruptor effect can be specific to time, age and length of exposure and may only be noticed later in life or in the next generation.

The main concern for determining which chemicals exhibit endocrine disruptor qualities is to ensure safety, this would include risk assessments involving test both in vitro (non-animal) and with animals.

A review of the endocrine disruptors strategy is expected to be put forward by the Commission in 2013.

European Supply Chain stakeholders agree on future animal welfare priorities

The European Animal Welfare Project, an EU funded project bringing together representatives from farmers, retailers, animal welfare NGOs and academia is publishing the results of three years of discussion and interaction on the protection of animals raised for food. With animal welfare of increasing concern to citizens and consumers as part of sustainable and ethical food choice, business operators are keen to know what issues will be priorities in the coming years.

For all details, click here

WSPA helps put animal welfare on the agenda for Rio+20

On the occasion of the UN Earth Summit (Rio+20) which was held last 19-20 June, Eurogroup’s member WSPA called on global leaders to recognise the importance and benefits of humane animal farming practices in ensuring we can feed the world sustainably and urging them to set goals to ensure animal welfare is core to future sustainable development. WSPA’s statement includes 5 recommendations for global leaders to take forward.

For full details, click here

WSPA also released a publication on a related topic entitled Animal and human welfare hand-in-hand: how animal welfare can boost jobs and livelihoods and can be downloaded here

DG SANCO’s Deputy Director-General Ladislav Miko at Eurogroup's Conference

Aside from its Annual General Meeting, Eurogroup held on 19-20 June its European Animal Welfare Conference where speakers from various fields and professions discussed topics ranging from animal welfare issues to improving communication in a globalised and digitalised age.

The meeting was a great success and was lively and well-attended by participants from various countries and age groups. Particularly worth noting is the participation of Deputy Director-General of the Directorate General for Health and Consumers of the European Commission, Mr Ladislav Miko, who introduced the work and current challenges of the European Commission in the area of animal welfare and answered questions and addressed concerns raised from participants. It was also an opportunity to re-emphasise the European Commission’s strong commitment in the field of animal welfare.

New publications EFSA publications

The EFSA released 3 documents of major interest related to animal welfare issues:

The first one is a statement which aims at helping to establish a common framework for future scientific opinions dealing with the use of animal-based measures to assess the welfare of animals and it can be found here

The EFSA also published a draft guidance for the environmental risk assessment of Genetically Modified animals within the framework of its public consultation on the same topic. The document, which focuses on GM fish, insects, mammals and birds, outlines the specific data requirements and methodology for the environmental risk assessment of GM animals should applications be submitted for market authorisation in the European Union (EU) in the future. More details can be found here

Lastly, the European Commission requested that European Food Safety Agency review relevant new scientific references on electrical stunning of poultry and to recommend, if necessary, new electrical requirements applicable for waterbath stunning equipment. Click here to read the full results

Written Declaration on the protection of dolphins in the Black Sea

On 2 July, MEPs Elena Basescu, Chris Davies, Andrey Kovatchev, Isabella Loevin and Kristian Vigenin launched a Written Declaration on the protection of dolphins in the Black Sea, which calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to take all appropriate measures in order to ensure that dolphins in the Black Sea are better protected.

Deadline to gather the requisite signatures is 8 November 2012.

To see the Written Declaration, click here