No subsidies for animal transport cruelty outside of the EU


FOUR PAWS welcomes the judgement of the European Court of Justice that could affect 170 million live animals transported per year

Brussels, 19 October 2017, The European Court of Justice confirmed that European animal welfare regulation on live animal transport apply to the entire journey, including outside the European Union. In order to get export refunds on livestock, exporters are required to follow Regulation No 1/2005, guaranteeing the protection of animals during transport and to minimize suffering and cruelty, until the first place of unloading in the third country of final destination. The court ruling was linked to an excruciating journey of animals from the Netherlands to Beirut and is not the first time the European Court issues a ruling which calls for implementation of European law for live animal transport for animals sent beyond European borders.

“FOUR PAWS welcomes today’s Court decision, improving the welfare of millions of animals exported outside EU borders every year during their transport. This gives full effect to the previous case and it is absolutely normal that, in return for a reimbursement, the exporters should guarantee the highest welfare to the animals during their transport,”  says Pierre SULTANA, Director of the European Policy Office of FOUR PAWS in Brussels.

The livestock export company did not complete the journey log for the 13 days of transport to Beirut of 36 live bovines, of which 5 died. The journey log was only completed until the exit point of the EU. Nevertheless, the veterinarian in Beirut stated that the welfare of the bovines was good and the transport was carried out according to European rules for animal welfare during transport.

Because of the incomplete journey log, the Dutch competent authority rejected the veterinarian’s statement and requested the reimbursement of the export refund with an additional 10% penalty.

The court was asked whether the transporter must keep the journey log up to date until the first place of unloading in the third country of final destination or whether it is sufficient that the journey log be handed over to the official veterinarian at the exit point of the Union. Without having access to such, a veterinarian in the third country cannot attest that the route plan records are in compliance with European rules on animal transport and export refunds. The route plan records hold information on the duration of the journey and the resting times of the animals. The judgement states that the original journey log has to be completed until the exit point of the EU. A copy of the journey log has to be kept and completed until the first unloading point of the country of final destination. The Court based its decision on the effectiveness of animal welfare.

“Once again, the serious inconsistencies of regulation No 1/2005 have been pointed out and we hope that the EU Commission will finally consider a revision, as required by the “stop the trucks” campaign”, as quoted by Pierre SULTANA.


Continue reading No subsidies for animal transport cruelty outside of the EU


Italian Supreme Court: keeping live lobsters on ice in a restaurant is mistreatment


The Italian Supreme Court sentences a restaurant to a 5,000EUR fine for keeping lobster on ice. The high court confirms that crustaceans are sentient beings capable of experiencing pain if they are mistreated.

The Italian Supreme Court states that lobster feel pain if they are kept on ice before being taken to a kitchen, particularly if their claws are tied. Those that follow this practice are considered to be mistreating the animal, as per Article 727 of the Italian criminal code. Because of this, the Supreme Court sanctioned the Campi Bisenzio restaurant in Florence to a 5,000EUR fine, in addition to paying compensation damages to the LAV  (Antivivisection League).  

The high court maintains that it is one thing to cook the animals when they are still alive, something that constitutes a “habitual social practice”, however it is another to keep them in a way that causes “suffering from being kept on ice and tied up” before being cooked […]. The owner of the restaurant defended himself by explaining that the crustaceans arrived from America in boxes of ice with their claws tied, and he therefore provided the same conditions until they were cooked. The Supreme Court stated that this claim was inadmissible due to various pieces of research in recent years, which have resulted in a part of the scientific community taking the view that these animals are capable of experiencing pain as sentient beings. The Supreme Court proposes alternative methods of keeping lobster before they are cooked, such as aquariums with an adequate temperature and level of oxygen, a system that is used in both supermarkets and by leading restaurants.  

In short, from this point forward, many Italian restaurants will have stop using methods which preserve lobster and other crustaceans on ice, because this causes the animals to suffer. 

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06.06.2017 – Kick-off meeting of the EU Platform on Animal Welfare by the EU Commission

The European Animal Welfare Platform

FOUR PAWS is looking forward to exchange of shared best practices and the work to come, but reminds the EU Commission that they should take action too.

Brussels 06.06.2017 – The international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS welcomes the first meeting of the EU Platform on Animal Welfare, which gathered 75 representatives from NGOs, farmers’ organisations, scientists, EU Member States and other European countries (Switzerland, Iceland), international organisations such as FAO, OIE, and World Bank, and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

During this first meeting, the participants were offered the opportunity to discuss relevant areas of work of common interest, and to propose priorities for the work of the Platform. The aim was to share information and experience on better implementation of EU animal welfare legislation, the promotion of EU animal welfare standards globally, and the promotion on the market of animal welfare friendly products. The participants have emphasised the need for new legislation, especially for species that are not covered by existing EU law yet, despite the Commission being reluctance to work on legislation.

Pierre SULTANA, Director of the European Policy Office of FOUR PAWS, underlines that “the platform should not substitute the work of the Commission regarding the parts of animal welfare legislation, which need to be either revised or introduced. It is necessary to deal with existing problems hindering progress, such as issues related to cruel practices, such as the killing of day-old chicks and non-therapeutic mutilations and to companion animals.”

Adolfo SANSOLINI, FOUR PAWS’ Expert in the Platform explains that “common EU values and animal welfare issues bring together Europeans, therefore concrete actions are necessary. FOUR PAWS values the cooperation with the Commission and other stakeholders, in order to improve the way animals are treated in Europe and beyond. In particular, FOUR PAWS is in favour of the creation of sub-groups in order to get something out of this work. We will make everything in our power to make it happen”.

The EU Commission will prioritise, map out and analyse the list of topics, to reach concrete and measurable results. The next meeting is scheduled for November 10th 2017.


To review the web stream of the meeting: 

Click here to access the minutes of the meeting of the EU Platform on Animal Welfare. 

EU Platform on Animal Welfare

More information on the platform:



The Benelux Interparliamentary Assembly adopts by unanimity the recommendation on unscrupulous dog trade


FOUR PAWS welcomes the adoption of the recommendation.

Brussels, 03.05.2017 – The International animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS is pleased with the adoption by the Benelux Interparliamentary Assembly of the recommendation that was drafted by Ms Sabine Vermeulen, member of the Benelux Parliament, introducing measures to tackle the unscrupulous practices of puppy trade. The recommendation which will be published soon considers several problems, such as the need to enforce the tractability of dogs and cross-border cooperation. 

FOUR PAWS closely followed the elaboration of the recommendation. Pierre SULTANA, Director of the European Policy Office of FOUR PAWS in Brussels, expressed his satisfaction regarding the vote and explains that: “our organization has been actively involved in the fight against illegal pet trade in particular online, through our Pet Deception campaign, launched in June 2016. To guarantee that animal welfare standards are met and that future owners are protected, not only it is essential to regulate this sector secure the sale of dogs, but also raise awareness and inform people about the risks and sometimes dirty business behind the online trade”.

Pierre SULTANA also explains that “although many existing legislations are very good in the Benelux, these countries represent are still a transit point for illegal and unscrupulous puppy trade, that is most often a cross-border issue. It is important to to favour cooperation between countries. Establishing a central system such as EUROPETNET, helps to identify and register dogs and their Transponders’ numbers. The transformation of the European passport into a unique document for each animal, from the date of birth and death would also help tackle the illegal trade of animals. 

The Recommendation can be read here: BNL885-1


Italian transposition of the Lab Animals Directive still in infringement

mouse on human hand | 2002 | schoenbrunn vienna |

On February 15 2017, the European Commission sent a reasoned opinion (second step of the infringement process) to Italy for not having transposed properly the EU Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes (Directive 2010/63/EU). Already in April 2016, a letter of formal notice was sent to Italy by the EU Commission. If the Italian authorities fail to act within two months, the case may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.

This Directive, which should have been enacted into national law by 10 November 2012, ensures a high level of animal welfare while safeguarding the proper functioning of the internal market. It also aims to minimise the number of animals used in experiments and requires alternatives to be used where possible. Italy had enacted the Directive in March 2014; however, a number of points of non-conformity need to be addressed. On certain aspects, the Italian law remains below the animal welfare standards set out by the Directive, while Italy invokes its allegedly higher standards on other issues, which can disturb the proper functioning of the internal market.



A new website for the EU Enforcement Network


VIER PFOTEN/FOUR PAWS, European Policy Office

The EU Enforcement Network of Animal Welfare Lawyers and Commissioners has taken a step forward today with the publication of a new website.

Brussels, 8 August 2016. Ever since the very first pieces of EU animal welfare legislation, enforcement has been a serious issue. That is why in 2012 the EU Commission focused primarily on enforcement in the framework of its new Animal Welfare Strategy. Also in 2012, as an outcome of the Conference on enforcement of animal welfare-related EU legislation, VIER PFOTEN’s European Policy Office created the EU Enforcement Network of Animal Welfare Lawyers and Commissioners. Its main aim was to improve enforcement of EU animal welfare legislation in the Member States and to support the new EU Animal Welfare Strategy of the EU Commission.

Four years later, the small network of a dozen active animal welfare lawyers and commissioners has grown significantly, and now has more than 60 members from 20 different countries. Moreover, its website – partnered by the European Policy Office of VIER PFOTEN, the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE), the German Juridical Association for Animal Welfare Law (DJGT), the Swiss foundation Stiftung für das Tier im Recht, and the research group ADS/ALS of the Free University of Barcelona – has helped to share best practices and enforcement tools between the 28 Member States. The number of visits to the website shows that there is sustained interest in the Network all over Europe. In particular, in 2014 the Network established a working group on animal-related terms and definitions, and the report that came from this working group was used as a consultancy document in the drafting of the terms and definitions in the EU Animal Health Law.

Today enforcement is still a big issue. This can be illustrated by the fact that since 2012, no fewer than 10 infringement procedures have had to be initiated against non-compliant States regarding the ‘sow-stall Directive’ and 13 regarding the ‘laying hens Directive’. Moreover, Member States have suggested including this issue in the framework of the announced ‘EU Animal Welfare Platform’. It was therefore the perfect time to renew the website, to share its resources in a more user-friendly way," said Pierre Sultana, Director of the European Policy Office of VIER PFOTEN/FOUR PAWS. "We took time to analyse the website, the visitor data and the feedback received from diverse stakeholders, and from that point we decided to create a new website with a new structure.”

As enforcement and infringement of EU animal welfare legislation remain the main focus, the new website has been structured to enable users to evaluate and compare the Member States regarding these issues in a dynamic way. We have also enriched the website by including the results of the EU Audits on Animal Health and Welfare, and by adding more documents to support proper enforcement, such as guidelines, legal reports and studies. "Moreover, regarding the new challenges for animal health and welfare that we will have to face in the coming years, in particular in the context of the newly adopted EU Animal Health Law, we have decided to enlarge the membership of the Network to include veterinarians," Pierre Sultana added.

The new website is now available at the same address:


ECJ decision on long-transport of live animals: Regulation 1/2005 has been clarified


VIER PFOTEN European policy office

Long-Transport of live animals and EU Regulation 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport

The EU Court of Justice clarifies the rules regarding travel time and rest time in the interest of animals

Continue reading ECJ decision on long-transport of live animals: Regulation 1/2005 has been clarified


​International experts propose a roadmap to the EU Commission on improving the welfare of dogs and cats in the EU.


VIER PFOTEN/ FOUR PAWS European Policy Office


Brussels, 23.06.2016

​International experts propose a roadmap to the EU Commission on improving the welfare of dogs and cats in the EU.

“Identification, vaccination and movement of dogs and cats in the EU: How to improve the Pet Passport and TRACES systems?” conference 

Continue reading ​International experts propose a roadmap to the EU Commission on improving the welfare of dogs and cats in the EU.