Commissioner responsible for Health
European Parliament plenary session
President, Honourable Members,
May I first express my sincere thanks for all the hard work of EP members in support of the Commission's proposal to ban the trade in cat and dog fur in the EU.
Let me acknowledge in particular the efforts made by the Rapporteurs – Ms Svensson, Ms Lucas and Mr Stevenson – that will hopefully allow us to reach a first reading agreement.
During recent years, disturbing evidence of the barbaric treatment of cats and dogs, bred and killed for their fur, mainly in Asia, has provoked a strong demand for the Commission to take action.
From the very beginning, the common understanding of the EP, Council and the Commission was to agree an effective ban, to be enacted with the shortest possible delay, to correspond to citizens' concerns.
Informal trilogues have led to the current compromise. I welcome this compromise. It is legally sound, and will ensure that the ban will be effective in practice.
Allow me to make some general comments on the compromise text. You will recall that the Commission's original proposal was criticised by some because loopholes were feared.
There is no legal basis in the Treaty that would allow the EU to adopt a legislative initiative to ban a particular trade based on animal welfare or ethical concerns.
Furthermore there is no legal basis for animal protection in the Treaty.
As a consequence, in drawing up the proposal the Commission had to overcome some serious legal obstacles.
The proposed ban is based on Internal Market rules.
For reasons of proportionality it was necessary to consider the inclusion of a provision that would allow for possible derogations to the ban.
The EP and the Council Legal Services clearly supported the Commission approach.
The compromise text before us today therefore contains the possibility to derogate exceptionally from the trade ban for taxidermy or educational purposes.
Let me also comment on the animal welfare benefits of this proposal.
In general the Commission is working to ensure the highest possible level of animal welfare within the EU – and also to promote better animal welfare internationally.
Obviously, today we cannot lay down rules for third countries – but the decision we are taking will surely send out a clear message that EU citizens are not willing to tolerate products derived from exploited animals.
The EP, the Council and the Commission have worked very hard to get this legislative project to the point where are now, and to reach an acceptable compromise.
I hope very much that the vote tomorrow will reflect this positive and constructive attitude.