Eurogroup believes that the European Commission must use such a law to define how the welfare of animals should be taken into account in the EU. Indeed, since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the Commission has not implemented the obligations included in Article 13, which provides that, "In formulating and implementing the Union’s agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development and space policies, the Union and the Member States shall, since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals (…)."
Maurit Paulesn MEP, Rapporteur for an own initiative report calling for a framework law was also present when Eurogroup presented its demands at the European Parliament. The key demands that should be included in the prospective law are:
Coverage of all species, including dairy cows, farmed fish, pets and wild animals under this law is vital and perfectly justified regarding the substantial economic interests at stake. The lack of specific EU legislation and the fact that national legislation differs widely has led to inconsistencies and distortions within the internal market. For example pets and wild animals are moved and traded across Europe on a large scale which compromises welfare, health, environment and economic interests. Animal welfare is not a stand-alone but closely connected to human welfare, environmental interests and the economic situation therefore Eurogroup believes it is totally legitimate for the EU to take up this role.
One of the aims of an Animal Welfare Framework Law is to use science based animal welfare indicators. The replacement of existing legislation by imprecise language or broad outcome based indicators should be prevented. Indicators such as compliance to ‘appropriate stocking density’ for pigs and broilers or a ‘fed fibre for calves in sufficient quantity to maintain them in good health’ are too broad and unenforceable. To safeguard the minimum welfare requirements, clear precise provisions are needed. Indicators should sit alongside legislative provisions and inputs.
Finally, Eurogroup sees this framework as the opportunity to put tools in place, like the animal welfare reference centres, to improve enforcement, educate citizens and empower consumers. We view the reference centres as an important vehicle to centralise information and relevant data, to provide training and education tools and assist Member States in enforcing legislation.
"We hope that the European Commission will listen to our demands and those being made by the European Parliament and develop a framework animal welfare law that will improve the welfare of millions of animals in Europe every year. This law provides a concrete opportunity for the Commission to address once and for all the issue that animals are sentient beings and deserve our respect," said Reineke Hameleers, Director of Eurogroup for Animals.
"Today, on World Animal Day, we believe that this law can cover all animal species, develop knowledge, education and encourage citizens to take their responsibilities seriously making a huge difference for animals of all shapes and sizes," she concluded.