On Tuesday 14 February 2017 Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety addressed the Animal Welfare Intergroup on the latest animal welfare policy developments at the EU level.
Please click here to access his full speech.
He announced the Commission will be able to address the outstanding points of the EU Animal Welfare Strategy (2012-2015) by the end this year with the publication of three studies on best practices on animal transport, on animal slaughter, and on the transport of fish. The Commission will also issue three reports on the application of the Directive on broiler chicken, on the slaughter of farmed fish and on international activities in animal welfare. Thus the Animal Welfare Strategy 2012-2015 will come to an end with a delay of two years.
Among other animal welfare policy initiatives, he identified the publication of the Eurobarometer on attitudes of Europeans towards Animal Welfare which was released last year, the ongoing work for better enforcement of EU animal welfare related legislation, and the upcoming designation of EU reference centres for animal welfare which will go ahead once the European Parliament has approved the Official Controls dossier in its second reading.
Announcements on the Commission Expert Group for the ‘Platform on Animal Welfare’
Commissioner Andriukaitis also presented the recently published Commission Decision for establishing the Commission Expert Group ‘Platform on Animal Welfare’. The purpose of the Platform is to foster a constructive dialogue on animal welfare issues which are of relevance for competent authorities, businesses, civil society and academia. The expert group on the Platform will support the European Commission with the development and exchange of coordinated actions on animal welfare with a specific emphasis on better application of EU rules on animal welfare, through exchanges of information and best practices, and through direct involvement of stakeholders. To further improve animal welfare, the Platform should also contribute to the development and use of voluntary commitments by businesses, and to the promotion of EU animal welfare standards to enhance the market value of EU products at the global level.
The Platform will be composed of 75 members and will convene twice a year at the European Commission. On 30 January 2017, the Commission launched a call for applications to select members from business and professional organisations, organisations from civil society, and independent experts from academic and research institutes for their expertise in animal welfare. The deadline for applications is 6th March 2017.
The Platform sessions will be chaired by the Director-General for Health and Food Safety or his representative.
Subgroups will be set up for the purpose of examining specific questions in relation to terms of reference being defined by the European Commission. They shall be dissolved as soon as their mandate is fulfilled.
The European Parliament will not be represented with member status in the Platform but shall be kept informed of the Platform’s work. Upon request, the Commission may invite the Parliament to send experts to attend the meetings.
The Commissioner concluded his presentation by stating: “We are delivering on the promise made to forge ahead in the field of animal welfare. The establishment of a dedicated Platform will be a cornerstone of the future progress in this area through better implementation of existing rules, development of new voluntary commitments and the promotion of our EU standards in the market place.”
Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP (EPP, FI) thanked the Commissioner for his presentation and said: “The Intergroup welcomes the European Commission’s Decision for establishing an Animal Welfare Platform which will enable public institutions and stakeholders to work in a tailor-made way on animal welfare issues. The creation of the Platform on Animal Welfare has been promoted by the Intergroup since the beginning of the term and therefore we are very pleased to see that it will be established soon”.
The session continued with a lively debate where several MEPs expressed their dissatisfaction with current EU policy-making on animal welfare and the lack of new legislation in this field. Fredrick Federley (ALDE, SE) emphasized the need for an EU animal welfare framework law which the European Parliament has requested on several occasions. Maria Noichl (S&D, DE) expressed her concerns about the lack of enforcement of the Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and stressed the need for a review of this regulation. Keith Taylor (Greens/EFA, UK) regretted the fact that the Parliament is not represented as a member in the Platform and Anja Hazekamp (GUE/NGL, NL) and Stefan Eck (GUE/NGL, DE) stressed the need to deliver concrete results for the improvement of animal welfare in the EU.
The Intergroup prepared a statement on the Commission Decision for establishing the Commission Expert Group ‘Platform on Animal Welfare’ which welcomes the initiative, highlights some shortcomings, and makes suggestions for the creation of subgroups within the Platform. This document was handed over to the Commissioner at the end of the meeting.