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Brussels, 1 October 2010

Animal welfare: Commission awards prizes to children for their drawings in contest "How to make animals happy"

Ten children from various EU Member States will receive awards tomorrow for having their drawings selected in a drawing competition, organised earlier this year by the European Commission to raise awareness about animal welfare and to promote the humane treatment of animals. The ceremony is part of a two-day event - the first International Conference on Animal Welfare Education- which starts today in Brussels and is co-organised by the Commission and the Belgian Presidency of the EU. The competition was open to young Europeans up to the age of 13. More than 1500 drawings were submitted from across the EU. Prince Laurent of Belgium will present the awards to the 10 winners. The conference focuses on animal welfare education.

Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner, John Dalli, said: "As citizens and consumers we can play an important role in the welfare of animals. Informed citizens can make responsible choices that can influence the ways animals are kept". Commissioner stressed that: "Education, is a key element of our future policies for improving the understanding, the level of acceptance and enforcement of the EU legislation on animal welfare, and should be incorporated as a core element of the future European strategy."

The competition

Children are the citizens of tomorrow. That's why the Commission focuses an important part of its efforts to raise awareness about animal welfare on them. The competition "How to make animals happy" is not the first Commission initiative in that direction. In 2008, the Commission launched "Farmland" – the first interactive and informative website on the welfare of farmed animals for children between the ages of nine and 12.

"How to make animals happy" was organised as part of the One Health road-show that visits agricultural fairs and exhibitions across the EU. Children were asked to submit drawings illustrating what, in their view, would make an animal happy and healthy. More than 1500 children participated. Entries were divided into three age groups: 6-8 years old, 9-11 and 12-13.

In the end, 10 drawings were selected. The Commission has invited the children together with their parents to Brussels, where tomorrow morning they will receive their prizes from Prince Laurent. This will also allow them to make contact with EU institutions and learn about their work.

The conference

The First International Conference on Animal Welfare Education aims to inform citizens about animal welfare and to raise awareness on the importance of educating the general public, in particular European children, about how animals should be treated. The conference's motto "Everyone is responsible" and logo depicting a hand, a cow, a sheep and a bird were chosen in order to highlight the important links between humans and animals.

The conference brings together academics, officials, teachers, veterinarians and NGO representatives from around the world who are discussing specific programmes and strategies on animal welfare. Its outcome is expected to facilitate the Commission's effort to prepare a new European Strategy for Animal Welfare.


The necessity to inform European children about animal welfare became evident during the first serious avian flu outbreaks in 2004. Children in Europe watched the images of the culling of poultry on television. This was necessary to prevent the disease from spreading further. Many children, in particular those of primary-school age, reacted to these images by sending letters and drawings to the Commission asking it to take action to protect the animals.

Animal Welfare has gained more prominence at EU level since December 1, 2009, when the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union entered into force. Article 13 recognises animals as sentient beings. It provides that the Union and Member States shall "pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals" when "formulating and implementing the Union's agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development and space policies."

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