The Evaluation of the EU Animal Welfare Strategy is the first deliverable of the European Commission’s ongoing ‘Fitness Check’ of EU legislation and was a focal topic at the exchange of views with the Commissioner yesterday afternoon. The meeting was chaired by MEP Anja Hazekamp, President of the Intergroup, who was pleased with the constructive exchange of views, which touched upon a number of crucial topics including the need for a revision of the outdated Animal Transport Regulation, as well as the Directive concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes.
Additionally, Hazekamp sees the revision of the legislation as the ultimate opportunity to deliver on the European Citizens’ Initiative End the Cage Age, and put an end to cages in animal farming.
The Animal Welfare Strategy was structured around 6 key objectives. According to the Commissioner, all objectives were met, apart from the final objective: simplifying the legislative framework. Kyriakides stated that the Commission would remedy this and revise selected pieces of legislation on the welfare of farmed animals.
The Commissioner stressed her personal willingness to improve animal welfare standards, highlighting the recent deplorable events of the livestock vessels in the Mediterranean sea and her immediate action to all authorities concerned.
However, MEPs called on the Commissioner to take further action when it comes to Animal Welfare practices in the EU, stressing that the current legislative framework does not go far enough to protect all farmed animal species including fish, broiler chickens and caged rabbits - to name but a few.
Discussion on antimicrobial resistance in farmed animals, its dangers to animal and human health, particularly in the context of COVID 19, got underway after Manuela Ripa MEP (Greens/EFA, DE) expressed her desire to reduce the use of antibiotics to 0% as opposed to the current strategy of reaching a 50% reduction by 2030. This tested the Commissioner who sees the current target of a 50% reduction as ambitious and realistic, claiming, “it aims to curb antimicrobial resistance while contributing to a sustainable food system”.
Finally, MEP Niels Fuglsang (S&D, DK), with support from other MEPs, put it to the Commissioner why her title as ‘Commissioner for Health and Food Safety’ does not also include a reference to Animal Welfare – surely she should be the Commissioner for Health, Food Safety and Animal Welfare?
The Commissioner did not shy away from this question and stated that she would use her current position to appoint experts in specific areas, such as animal welfare. This, she noted, would be a good way to raise the profile and awareness.