- Sarah Wiener (Greens-EfA, AT)
- Sylwia Spurek – The Greens, PL
- Anja Hazekamp – The Left, NL
- Manuela Ripa – The Greens, DE
- Günther Sidl – S&D, AT
- Pascal Durand – Renew, FR
- Annika Bruna – ID, FR
- The Working Group is coordinated by Dr. Alexandra Joos and Andreas Manz from FOUR PAWS.
Background and Impetus
Across EU Member States, more and more consumers and politicians value animal welfare (AW) as an integral part of sustainable agriculture (Special Eurobarometer 442, 2016: Attitudes of Europeans towards Animal Welfare). Yet, information on the animal welfare status under which a certain product is produced is rare. Labels are unevenly distributed across the EU and largely depend on voluntary private initiatives following various approaches and using different interpretations of the term animal welfare.
As part of the Farm to Fork Strategy of the European Green Deal, the European Commission is planning to present a legislative proposal for a sustainable food labelling framework by the end of the legislative term in 2024. Animal welfare is deemed a key component of sustainability in the food chain and information is demanded by EU citizens.
The findings of a European Commission study on animal welfare labelling confirm that Europeans are looking for more transparency and clarity on animal welfare and would appreciate a clear labelling system that aids them in making conscious choices. According to the study, 2/3 of Europeans feel like they have insufficient information on the conditions farm animals are kept and treated. Over 40% of Europeans want to have more information on slaughter conditions and adequate feeding and 35% want to know if animals had outdoor access.
In addition, the survey found that EU citizens tend to trust an NGO or EU public authority run scheme more than one from the private sector or national public authorities.
As part of the fitness check on EU animal welfare legislation, the Commission considered options for labelling in the survey to the inception impact assessment. The vast majority of respondents (90% of all respondents, i.e. 53 128 out of 59 281) of the public consultation clearly pointed out that an EU AW-label is a useful tool to inform consumers about animal welfare.
The European Parliament expressed its views on animal welfare labelling a few times. In its response to the Farm to Fork Strategy it said that comprehensible information on animal welfare and sustainability, and the public provision of information on the true cost of production can help to guide the consumer towards healthy, sustainable and safe nutrition.
In the resolution on the implementation report on on-farm animal welfare (2020/2085(INI)), the Parliament finds that consumers should be provided with clear and transparent information by ensuring clear and reliable labelling of animal products on welfare-related aspects of the entire production cycle, including the method of production.
In the final recommendations on the investigation of alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application of Union law in relation to the protection of animals during transport within and outside the Union, the Parliament called on the Commission and the Member States to explore the possibility of introducing a transparent and harmonised animal welfare labelling system for animal and animal-derived products, which should also take into account transport and slaughter conditions. Last but not least, the European Parliamentary research service highlighted in its study the potential benefits of animal welfare labelling schemes.
In sum, whilst EU citizens want to make informed purchasing decisions at the supermarket or in restaurants, standardised and transparent labelling for animal-derived food products is missing. In this regard, there is common agreement among the above-mentioned studies that there is a need for action to meet the growing consumer expectations. This is why now a dedicated Working Group is created to push the decision-making process towards a mandatory EU-wide animal welfare label.
Specific aims & actions
The aim of this working group is to bring together MEPs to take concrete action in relation to the creation and adoption of an EU-wide label of animal-derived products.
More specifically, the working group aims to advise the European Commission on an EU-wide labelling scheme that is:
- mandatory and multi-tiered
- labelling all farm animal production standards ranging from minimum EU-legislation to premium level
- including retailing and out-of-home consumption to provide most transparency and to increase label awareness and knowledge
- is simple and easy to understand for consumers
- incorporating an independent and reliable control and certification system
To achieve this, the group will:
- Profile its members as strong voices for a transparent and mandatory EU-wide label of animal-derived products
- Develop a manifesto on labelling
- Provide written questions to the European Commission
- Send a letter to the European Commission
The long-term goal is a shift in agriculture towards higher quality, lower volume production that meets environmental, animal welfare and nutritional concerns.
With the aim of setting out clear recommendations for the European Commission to develop a mandatory EU-wide animal welfare labelling scheme, the group has written a manifesto calling for five important components.
Read the manifesto here.