5 December 2013
Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE)
Under Article 4(1) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 of 24 September 2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing (EU Official Journal L 303, 18.11.2009, p. 1), animals may be killed only after stunning. However, paragraph 4 of that article permits ritual slaughter without prior stunning in the case of animals subject to particular methods of slaughter prescribed by religious rites. Furthermore, Recital 18 states that ‘this regulation respects the freedom of religion and the right to manifest religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance, as enshrined in Article 10 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union’.
Under Article 26(1) of the regulation Member States may maintain any national rules aimed at ensuring more extensive protection of animals at the time of killing, provided that they inform the Commission about such rules before 1 January 2013.
Poland is continuing to apply the outright ban on ritual slaughter established within the country by Article 34(1) of the Act of 21 August 1997 on the protection of animals (consolidated text, Polish Official Journal 2103, item 856, as amended).
1. Can an outright ban on ritual slaughter without prior stunning be considered a measure ‘aimed at ensuring more extensive protection of animals’ within the meaning of Article 26(1) of the above regulation?
2. In such a ban in keeping with Article 10 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union?
3. Did the letter of 27 December 2012 from the Polish Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development meet the requirements laid down in Article 26(1) of the regulation, thus enabling Poland to maintain the outright ban on ritual slaughter?
31 January 2014
Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission
Article 4(4) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009(1) provides an exception to the obligation of Member States to ensure that animals are only be killed after stunning in accordance with certain methods and requirements set out in an annex to that regulation. In the case of animals subject to particular methods of slaughter prescribed by religious rites, the obligation set out in Article 4(1) shall not apply provided that the slaughter takes place in slaughterhouses. This exception was inserted by the Union legislator to respect the freedom of religion (Article 10 of the Charter). National measures limiting the use of the exception under Article 4(4) must comply with Article 10 of the Charter
Determining the requirements flowing from the right to freedom of religion in relation to the killing of animals requires a complex assessment. In particular, it falls to determine whether the illegality of performing certain methods of killing of animals makes it impossible for members of certain religious communities to eat meat from animals slaughtered in accordance with the religious prescriptions they consider applicable. The Commission has not been provided with sufficient information on the ban of slaughter without stunning in Poland, including its effects on the religious communities concerned. It therefore cannot provide a legal assessment in the context of this parliamentary question, including as regards the issue of whether the way the Polish authorities have notified to the Commission the ban of slaughter without stunning in Poland fulfils the requirement of Article 26(1) of the said Regulation.