During yesterday’s Intergroup meeting which saw the appointment of Isabella De Monte (S&D, IT) as new Vice-President of the Intergroup, Janusz Wojciechowski, the former President of the Animal Welfare Intergroup and now a Member of the European Court of Auditors (ECA), spoke about the upcoming launch of an EU wide ECA audit on animal welfare.
Mr Wojciechowski said -“during my last meeting as President of this Intergroup, in May 2016, I announced the idea to propose an ECA audit on animal welfare. I have the pleasure to inform you that my proposal has been accepted. In June 2017, we will start with the first audit ever on this issue”.
The main purpose of the meeting with the Intergroup Members was to collect their suggestions for the preparation of the audit programme. Janusz Wojciechowski said that for the moment ECA would only have a general vision which can be summarised in three points:
- The audit should look into the implementing plans contained in the EU Animal Welfare Strategy 2012-2015. Generally, it should check the implementation of all animal welfare related legislation. This will not only focus on the level of implementation in the Member States but also on the responsibilities of the European Commission to monitor the implementation of Union law.
- The second subject area will be an audit of the control systems by the Member States and by the European Commission. The audit should look into the activities of the national control institutions like veterinary inspections and other relevant bodies and check whether the inspections are sufficient.
- The third subject area of the audit should focus on the spending of EU funds for animal welfare to identify the effective use of these allocations.
Jacqueline Foster (ECR, UK) spoke about the deafness of many slaughterhouse operators throughout the Member States towards animal suffering and the insufficient degree of enforcement of the related EU legislation. She reported about the general increase of halal slaughter and the unjustified imposition of halal meat to consumers stressing that the public opinion is very uncomfortable about this.
Karin Kadenbach (S&D, AT) hoped that with the new Official Controls Regulation better results could be achieved. She suggested analysing how much profits operators can make by ignoring animal welfare related requirements.
Stuart Agnew (EFD², UK) recommended auditing the control checks for live animal transports as well as the EU spending for bulls that are used in bullfighting.
Zbigniew Kuźmiuk (ECR, PL) inquired whether third country imports of live animals and their products could be subject of the audit.
Stefan Eck (GUE/NGL, DE) deplored that according to the European Commission no new animal welfare related legislation will be drafted during this term. He welcomed the planed audit as this could contribute to make the Member States and the European Commission more vigilant for better implementation and enforcement.
Isabella De Monte (S&D, IT) spoke about the overuse of antibiotics in intensive livestock farming and the obvious risks of antimicrobial resistance. This could be as well a subject of inquiry for the animal welfare audit.
Pascal Durand (Greens/EFA, FR) pointed to the lack of transparency concerning the cloning of animals for food supply and the marketing of their products.
Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP, FI) suggested to thoroughly analysing CAP spending linked to the conditionality to apply animal welfare standards. She advised as well to check if public money is given to haulers who transport live animals to third countries. Moreover, she recommended having a look at the cohesion funds regarding possible spending for dog population management and the potential misuse of these allocations. Not at least, also research laboratories should be checked regarding the compliance with EU legislation on the protection of animals used in research.
Fredrick Federley (ALDE, DE) welcomed the audit particularly in regard to the
Animal Transport Regulation but stressed on the need to keep a strong link to the farmers. They should not get the impression to be policed.
Janusz Wojciechowski thanked the Intergroup Members for their sound interest in an ECA audit and assured them that they would consider all suggestions made during the meeting. He invited all Members present to contact him in case of further suggestions and to share their knowledge regarding the degree of implementation of animal welfare related EU legislation in their home country. He was also interested to get more information about good practices on animal welfare in the Member States.