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John Dalli

Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy

EU Animal Welfare Strategy 2012-2015: Analysing the past and shaping the future

Statement on the adoption of the EU Animal Welfare Strategy 2012-2015

Brussels, 19 January 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Animal welfare is an emotive issue – about which European citizens – and consumers – care a lot.

As the recent conclusion of the deadline on the Laying Hens directive has shown, "animal welfare" is a permanent "work in progress". The surveillance over potential abuse, pain or maltreatment of animals are high on my agenda whether with regard to the keeping of animals or their transportation – sometimes over long distances. .

This is why I am pleased to inform you that the European Commission today adopted its EU strategy for the protection and welfare of animals 2012-2015.

The strategy is based on two complementary approaches:

Firstly, it embraces a holistic approach by considering the possibility of establishing a new EU legislative framework for animal welfare.

Secondly, the strategy seeks to reinforce existing EU actions in certain areas.

First, let me say a few words about what could be the changes implied by a new legislative framework:

  • the possibility of using animal welfare outcome-based indicators to meet compliance.

  • The consolidation and harmonisation of requirements for competence applicable to staff handling animals in an economic context.

  • The establishment of a European network of reference centres for animal welfare.

The network could provide technical and scientific assistance to authorities and stakeholders through dissemination of research, technical innovation and vocational training. In particular, it could work on the development of outcome-based animal welfare indicators.

The strategy also envisages the possibility of developing new tools to increase transparency and adequacy of information to consumers on animal welfare.

The Strategy adopted today does not start from scratch. We already have at our disposal a certain number of legislative texts, but we need to obtain much better enforcement of current EU rules. Indeed, insufficient enforcement by the Member States is still a serious obstacle to even the most beneficial and rewarding innovation in this field. We want to work on significantly improving enforcement as a first priority.

Stronger cooperation with the Member States is necessary to face the forthcoming challenges like the ban of sow stalls. This ban is due to apply from 1st January 2013 and first indications show that some Member States are still trailing behind. In the coming months I shall be doing everything in my power to promote full compliance before the ban comes into force. Afterwards there can be no tolerance of non-compliance.

We need also to continue our efforts to promote animal welfare internationally and ensure that our producers are not at a competitive disadvantage with producers from third countries.

Furthermore, it is essential that the Commission continues to work in promoting education and information on animal welfare. The Commission has initiated training initiatives for officials through the Better Training for Safer Food programme which needs to be maintained.

Specific communication campaigns for consumers will have to be launched in order to inform them better on the existing animal welfare standards for EU products.

The strategy for animal welfare also seeks to optimise synergies with other EU policies and in particular with the common agricultural policy.

To conclude, this is a time when the Commission is analysing the past and shaping the future for the animal welfare policy in the European Union.

I am also pleased to inform you that the Danish Presidency will co-organise with the Commission a specific conference in Brussels on this animal welfare strategy, at the end of February this year.

The strategy will now be debated by both the European Parliament and by the Council of Ministers.

Thank you.

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