Harmonisation of animal welfare standards in Member States


18 September 2012   

Elisabeth Jeggle (PPE) and Sabine Verheyen (PPE)



Except in the case of livestock farming, the rules on animal protection and animal husbandry have not been harmonised in EU Member States. This is a critical flaw, especially in border regions, because persons or holdings banned from keeping animals by the national authorities of one Member State can avoid the ban simply by moving to a neighbouring Member State.

What can the Commission do to put an end to such practices?

How and when does the Commission intend to present a proposal to harmonise standards of animal welfare in relation to animals that are not used in farming?



Answer given by Mr Šefcovic on behalf of the Commission

EU animal welfare rules exist for laboratory animals(1) and for wild animals kept in zoos(2) (although the main purpose of the second directive is mainly conservation), in addition to the rules applicable to farmed animals.

In its communication on an EU strategy for the protection and welfare of animals 2012-2015(3), the Commission envisaged the feasibility of preparing a new legislative framework for animal welfare that could be applicable to all animals kept in the context of an economic activity.

Since improving the welfare of animals is not in itself an objective of the EU treaties(4), any extension of EU rules in this domain has to be justified in the light of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality.

(1)    Directive 2010/63/EU (OJ L 276, 20.10.2010).
(2)    Directive 1999/22/EC (OJ L 94, 9.4.1999).
(3)    COM(2012) 6 final.
(4)    Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU requires paying full regard to the welfare requirements of animals in a context of certain EU policies such agriculture or internal market.