Implementation Report on On-Farm Animal Welfare

2 Jul 2021
Yesterday the Intergroup was presented with MEP Jérémy Decerle’s (Renew, FR) Draft Implementation Report on On-Farm Animal Welfare Legislation and a comprehensive overview by Inês Grenho Ajuda of the issues that currently exist with the present animal welfare legislation in the European Union.

The implementation report will be of major relevance as it will define the European Parliament’s position on the performance of the current farm animal welfare related legislation and will feed in the Commission’s ongoing ‘Fitness Check’ of the legislation. 

Decerle, a farmer himself, stressed that he understands the struggles and efforts that farmers have experienced to enhance animal welfare standards on farms, and believes it is relevant that the report highlights the importance and sensitivity of the topic. Issues of welfare during transport and slaughter are excluded from the report. However they will be addressed in the recommendations. 

Decerle based his report on a study conducted by the research unit of the European Parliament that collected the feedback from multiple stakeholders, such as industry and NGOs. He has found that most stakeholders agree that the animal welfare legislation needs to be updated to keep up with scientific findings - something that Inês Grenho Ajuda also stressed in her presentation.  He recommends that the legislation needs to have clearer wording of the goals, and indicators allowing a more uniform transposition across Member States and providing for a more consistent monitoring and sanctioning. His report also encompasses environmental elements, economical and social aspects. 

Inês Grenho Ajuda introduced the Intergroup to a concept known as the Five Domains. This is an animal welfare framework she recommends the Commission adopts for the revision of the animal welfare acquis, whereby farm animals can have a good life with positive mental well being. She highlighted that the AGRI report should call for improved and expanded legislation, species-specific rules and should address current non-compliance issues. The No Animal Left Behind campaign, which will run until new legislation has been presented by the Commission in 2023, includes these demands.

Many MEPs have already shown their support for this campaign as well as the need to heavily revise the Transport Regulation and the Slaughter Regulation. MEP Jytte Guteland (S&D, SE), as shadow rapporteur for the ENVI committee, intervened in yesterday's meeting showing her commitment to these issues and to the inclusion of species specific legislation for animals such as dairy cows and fish. She also stressed the need for mandatory animal welfare related labelling of all products. Decerle welcomed this intervention and made it clear that he also views labelling as a necessary element to be addressed in his report for a successful new animal welfare acquis. MEP Manuela Ripa (Greens, DE) reminded Decerle that animals are currently being treated as agricultural products when in fact they are sentient beings, and this is something that should be addressed in the report.

There were also questions around international trade and how (and whether) the revision of the animal welfare aquis can ensure that imported products comply with national standards. This is something Decerle foresees being addressed in the amendments to his report. As rapporteur for the AGRI Committee, Decerle informed the Intergroup that he will be cooperating closely with the shadow rapporteurs and the deadline for submission of amendments to the draft report is the 21st July, the adoption in Committee will take place at the end of October and the vote in plenary is foreseen for November. 

The next Intergroup session will take place in September. The date and time are not yet confirmed. 

Inês Grenho Ajuda's presentation can be accessed here.