The European Commission Proposes Major Reform of Animal Welfare Standards
The European Commission has unveiled a proposal for a significant overhaul of the animal welfare standards in the European Union, marking the first major reform in two decades. The proposal includes new rules that address the welfare and traceability of dogs and cats, with a focus on animals bred, maintained, and marketed as pets for economic purposes.
Among the key elements of the proposal package is a review of the current EU standards for animals in transport. The goal is to improve the well-being of the 1.6 billion animals transported within and from the EU annually. The new rules are designed to reflect the latest scientific evidence, knowledge, and technological advances.
Additionally, the Commission has put forward new measures to address the European Citizens’ Initiative “Europe without fur,” which calls for a ban on fur farming in the EU and the sale of fur products in the single market. The proposal acknowledges the importance of animal welfare as a major concern for European citizens and highlights the link between human, animal, and environmental health under the “One Health” approach.
One of the key areas of focus in the proposal is the transport of animals, with the current rules for animal transport in the EU being 20 years old. Under the new proposal, travel times will be shortened, and measures will be implemented to enhance the well-being of animals during long trips, including rest, feeding, and watering periods. Special rules will also apply to animals intended for slaughter and vulnerable animals to ensure their welfare.
The Commission also aims to make use of digital tools to facilitate compliance with transport regulations, such as real-time vehicle positioning and a central database.
Furthermore, the proposal seeks to improve the welfare of dogs and cats, given that 44% of EU households have a pet. The professional breeding, keeping, and sale of dogs and cats have become a significant industry, with an annual value of 1.3 billion euros. The proposal seeks to establish uniform EU standards for the welfare of dogs and cats bred or kept in breeding establishments, pet shops, and shelters. This will include minimum standards for their care, accommodation, and treatment, as well as traceability requirements for online sales.
The Commission has commissioned the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to provide a scientific opinion on the welfare of animals farmed for fur production. Based on this input and an assessment of the economic and social impacts, the Commission will communicate the most appropriate measures.
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