The New CAP and Animal Welfare

12 Apr 2022
Last week the Intergroup held its first meeting back in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, and what a meeting it was! Discussing important issues concerning the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), we were joined by Four Paws EU Farm Policy Coordinator, Mr Andreas Manz, and the Deputy Director General for Sustainability at DG AGRI, European Commission, Mr Pierre Bascou.

Mr Bascou took the floor, giving an update on the state-of-play of the nineteen Member States who submitted their CAP National Strategic Plans by the deadline. These Member States received an observational response from the Commission last week. All (of the nineteen) have recognised the importance of animal welfare in their national strategic plans, however according to Mr Bascou, they need to provide clarity on the desired intervention. 

Taking a moment to quickly point out that certain Member States go further than others in addressing animal welfare, for instance, Anja Hazekamp MEP (GUE/NGL NL) later alerted the Intergroup that the Netherland’s national strategic plan mentions animal welfare an entirety of two times. A number that does not reflect a Member State truly recognising the importance of animal welfare. 

Nonetheless all nineteen Member States have opted for animal welfare under the first pillar of their CAP Strategic Plans. Under the second pillar, sixteen of the nineteen Member States are providing welfare interventions. For example, by reducing stocking densities of bovines and pigs. Reference was also made to a transition of protection for laying hens. 

In its observation letters, the Commission has asked Member States to take into consideration issues such as tail docking (which currently is not being respected by a number of Member States, despite it being illegal under European Union law). It has also asked the Member States to promote the keeping of laying hens and sows in non-confined housing systems in order to help the transition to End the Cage Age. All observation letters additionally contain requests for clarification for enhancing the level of ambition. 

Mr Manz engaged the Intergroup on the analysis he and the wider Four Paws team carried out concerning the inclusion of animal welfare in specific national strategic plans. He gave an overview of the different farmed animals supported by Member States. Certain farmed animals received support from more Member States (for example bovines) than others (for example equines). 

Using Austria as an example Member State, it has given high priority to improve animal welfare in its strategic plans. For example, Austria uses the schoscheme to put animals on pasture for 120 days. Overall however, according to Mr Manz, The Member States are not delivering on the new CAP objectives and the CAP alone cannot achieve a change to animal welfare standards. It must be aligned with other tools, particularly the ongoing revision of the EU animal welfare rules.