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Action plan on animal welfare 2006-2010

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For the period 2006-2010, the EU is planning general measures aimed at ensuring animal welfare and protection. The measures will focus on improving standards, developing research and indicators, informing professionals and consumers and taking action at international level.

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 23 January 2006 on a Community Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of animals 2006-2010 [COM(2006) 13 - Official Journal C 49 of 28.02.2006].

SUMMARY

The action plan describes the measures the Commission intends to implement between 2006 and 2010 with the aim of developing and guaranteeing animal welfare and protection within the European Union (EU) and in other parts of the world. Its objective is to clarify Community legislation and make provisions for proposals in areas where it is insufficient.

The Commission would like to achieve the following objectives:

  • define more clearly EU action on animal welfare;
  • continue to promote high standards in this field;
  • provide greater coordination of resource;
  • support research and promote alternatives to animal testing;
  • ensure the coherence and coordination of all EU policies on animal welfare;

The action plan defines five main fields of interlinked action with the aim of achieving the stated objectives:

  • upgrading minimum standards
  • promoting research and substitute methods for animal testing;
  • introducing welfare indicators ;
  • ensuring that professionals and the general public are better informed;
  • supporting international initiatives for animal protection.

In terms of minimum standards, the action plan would reinforce the existing Community regulation in line with latest scientific knowledge, practical experience and progress in international fora.It also suggests that the minimum standards should be extended to cover species and issues currently not adequately provided for under EU legislation. Emphasis will inter alia be put on the respect of animal welfare by means of other policies, especially the Common Agricultural Policy (conditions for assistance, possible help in rural development policy).

The action plan recommends encouraging research projects that fill in the gaps and provide a sound scientific framework upon which future developments of EU policy on animal protection and welfare can be based. In addition, it proposes the creation of a European centre or laboratory, whose mission would be to collect, coordinate and exchange information on research and activities. The plan also emphasises the application of the 3Rs Declaration (replacement, reduction and refinement) defined at European level with regard to animal testing.

The action plan is hoping to introduce standardised animal welfare indicators. These indicators would guarantee that the minimum standards or stricter standards have been respected. The action plan also suggests that a Community label be created in order to promote products elaborated under higher animal welfare standards.

The action plan underlines the importance of training professionals, especially in order to disseminate good practice, and of informing consumers to enable them to make more enlightened choices on their purchases.

Under the action plan, the EU will continue to promote animal welfare standards within international fora such as the International Office of Epizootics (IOE) and the European Council. The plan advocates promoting the recognition and importance of these standards within the World Trade Organisation. Closer cooperation is also envisaged between the EU and countries that apply high standards and with developing countries.

The measures foreseen in the action plan will be assessed regularly in order to evaluate the progress made and to program complementary action after 2010.

Context

The action plan responds to the principles laid down in the protocol on animal welfare and protection annexed to the Treaty establishing the European Community (EC Treaty). This protocol recognises that animals are sentient beings and that full regard should be paid to animal welfare concerns when formulating or implementing policies relating to agriculture, transport, research and the internal market.

The impact study accompanying the action plan takes stock of the anticipated benefits of the action plan, of the existing legislation and of the research undertaken.

Since 1974, European legislation has been developed with a view to protecting animals and ensuring their well-being on farm holdings, during transport and at the time of slaughter.

RELATED ACTS

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Options for animal welfare labelling and the establishment of a European Network of Reference Centres for the protection and welfare of animals [COM(2009) 584 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission wishes to improve information for European consumers on animal welfare matters. In order to do this, it is launching a debate on the labelling of consumer products. By enabling consumers to identify and choose animal welfare-friendly products, the Commission hopes to encourage producers to improve their practices in order to satisfy demand.
This Report should enable the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions to conduct this debate, specifically in the following areas:

  • consumer awareness of animal welfare;
  • animal welfare-friendly products;
  • the terms used on products;
  • third country producers’ access to voluntary certification systems, in compliance with the principles of the World Trade Organisation (WTO);
  • indicators and methods of measuring animal welfare;
  • coordinating centres of scientific research.
Last updated: 18.06.2010
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