Intergroup meeting: CAP and animal welfare

On 06/07/2018, in All posts, by Animal Welfare Intergroup

Yesterday morning, the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals discussed the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the opportunities the new legislative framework provide to promote higher animal welfare in the EU. In June, the Commission released its legislative proposal for the future CAP. The two pillars structure is preserved but more flexibility is granted to Member States. Direct payments (Pillar I) will be performance driven, and no longer compliance driven: on the basis of a Commission’s list of objectives, Member States will set and achieve specific goals. The increased flexibility could be an opportunity for some Member States to take the lead on animal welfare, until a EU legislation is required to ensure a level-playing field for the internal market.

Herbert Dorfmann MEP (EPP, IT), the rapporteur of the EP own initiative report on the future of food and farming, opened the floor. He explained that a policy, especially one that represents around 40% of the total EU budget, should be assessed in regard of its objectives. He stressed that the goal of providing farmers with a fair income has not been met as the profession remains unattractive. In regard of the greening of agriculture, the CAP succeeded to integrate a range of sustainability elements but more could be done in order to match the citizens’ demands. Mr. Dorfman warned against reducing the CAP subsidies. He stressed the need for clear, understandable and transparent targets, including on animal welfare. If he welcomed the increased flexibility for Member States, he also pointed the risk to ensure a level-playing field in the EU market. He expressed his wish for a CAP offering strong incentives and allowing active, innovative, sustainable entreprises to be supported more.

Joe Moran, Political Adviser at Eurogroup for Animals, presented the opportunities and challenges to make the CAP an effective policy instrument to improve farm animals welfare across the EU. He stressed that animal welfare should be recognised as a public good and explained that, in the new CAP, payments should go to the farm systems that go beyond the legislative animal welfare standards. He suggested that CAP subsidies should support the production of plant-based products, in line with the recommendations of the WHO and FAO on dietary targets. In the Commission current proposal, animal welfare is recognized as an intangible asset and included in the objectives of the CAP, both in Pillar I and II. The proposal also offers opportunity for better animal welfare through measures to combat antimicrobial resistance. However, the proposal fails to make investments and actions to improve animal welfare compulsory and to provide a dedicated budget for animal welfare measures.

The presentation were followed by a lively debate focusing, among other issues, on the balance between higher flexibility and level-playing market, international trade and the question of conditional liberalisation, and the need to ensure a connection between the land available and the number of animals. The difficult question on how to reconcile the sentience of animals with the goal of the CAP to increase production was also raised.

The meeting ended with the appointment of John Flack as Vice-President of the Intergroup. He expressed his wish to work efficiently with his colleagues from the Intergroup to drive change and improve animal welfare in the EU.

The full recording of the Intergroup Session can be found here.

The agenda and Power Point presentation can be found here.



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