Commission requests Austria to act on bird protection

The European Commission has requested Austria to bring its hunting legislation into line with EU legislation on the protection of wild birds. The Birds Directive (2009/147/EC) prohibits any hunting of migratory birds listed in Annex II during their period of reproduction or during their return to their rearing grounds. Member States may derogate from this requirement only in the absence of other satisfactory solutions and provided that the population of the species concerned is maintained at a satisfactory level. The Austrian provinces of Burgenland, Lower Austria and Salzburg are allowing a hunt for Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) from 1 March until 15 April, and specifically for male Woodcock during their reproductive courtship flights. The Commission first raised its concerns in a letter of formal notice in March 2014. As the conditions for derogation have not been met and spring hunting of this species is in violation of the Birds Directive, the Commission is now sending a reasoned opinion. If Austria fails to act within two months, the case may be referred to the EU Court of Justice.

(For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172)


Commission asks Finland to act on bird protection

Through its hunting legislation, Finland has authorised hunting of the Eider males (a bird waterfowl specie) during their reproductive period, which is strictly forbidden under the Birds Directive. The Directive allows only the hunting of these birds only outsides of breeding or spring migration season.

Already on 22 November 2012, the EU Commission sent a letter of formal notice (first step of the infringement procedure) to Finland. Now, the Commission is sending a reasoned opinion (second step of the infringement procedure). If Finland fails to act within two months, the case may be referred to the EU Court of Justice.

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Animal welfare rules during transport also apply outside of EU borders

Today, the European Court of Justice ruled that animal welfare requirements during transport have also to be respected when the transport is taking place outside of EU borders.

A German transporter wanted to transport cattle from Germany to Uzbekistan, crossing a part of the EU territory, but also third countries including Belarus, Russia and Uzbekistan. He wanted to respect EU welfare transport rules only until EU external border (Belarus) and not for the part of the journey taking place in Russia and Asia, representing for the animals a continuous travel time of 146 hours with no food, no water and no rest.

According to Regulation 1/2005 on the welfare of animals during transport, the organiser of such a transport has to submit to the national competent authority a logbook containing the details of the planned journey, including resting time. The German competent authority has rejected the logbook, for the reason that EU welfare transport rules were not respected. In a reference for a preliminary ruling, the German competent authority asked to the EU Court if EU transport rules can also apply outside of EU borders. 

In its judgment, the Court referred to the animal welfare principle of Article 13 to estimate that the scope of EU transport Regulation 1/2005 is not limited to transports taking place inside EU borders, but also covers transports starting from inside the EU territory.

The Court stated “the authority may require, among other things, changes to the arrangements for the intended  transport  in  order  to  ensure  that  it  will  pass  by  enough  resting  and  transfer  points  to indicate  that  the  transport  will  comply  with  the  requirements  as  to  watering  and  feeding  intervals and journey times and resting periods”.

VIER PFOTEN / FOUR PAWS welcome this decision which is a big victory for animal welfare and a small hope for the millions of animals that are regularly transported from and across the EU.

More on the EU Court official press release

Text of the judgment:



A reasonned opinion adressed to Poland for its failure to implement the Animal in Experiments Directive


On October 16th 2014, the EU Commission adressed to Poland a reasonned opinion for its failure to implement Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes before the deadlin of January 1 2013. If Poland fails to act within two months, the case may be referred to the EU Court of Justice.

Please read more on the enforcement of Directive 2010/63/EU on

Please read the official EU press release here


Laying Hens: Italy condemned by the EU Court of Justice for infringement


On May 22 2014, the EU Court of Justice condemned Italy for infringement of the Council Directive 1999/74/EC of 19 July 1999 laying down minimum standards for the protection of laying hens.

This Directive also called the "laying hen Directive" came into force on January 2012 after a twelve years transition period during which Member States should take the necessary steps to comply with the Directive. In particular, the Directive provided that up from January 2012, rearing of laying hens in "traditional battery cages" would be prohibited, as well as the trade, import and export of eggs coming from these kinds of rearings. Consequently, since this date, only eggs coming from "enriched cages", barn eggs and free-range eggs are allowed to be produced and traded in the EU.

Despite the ban and the long transition time to apply it, and several "warnings" (within the preliminary infringement procedure) from the EU Commission, Italy has waited spring 2013 before starting to change its legislation, and the effects of the change have not been noticed before summer 2013. Therefore, the EU Commission decided to bring Italy in front of the EU Court of Justice for infringement following Article 268 TFEU. 

According to the EU Commission, when the ban entered into force, there were still on the Italian territory 239 farms rearing 11,729,854 laying hens in non-enriched traditional cages.

To defend itself, Italy tried to argue that the delay in implementing the ban was resulting from problems existing in its internal legal order, and moreover during this time the trade of these illegal eggs was limited to the Italian territory. But the EU Court rejected these arguments and condemned Italy. The exact amont of the fine will be decided later.

Please find here the full text of the judgment (available up to now only in Italian): Judgment of the Court – 22 May 2014 "Commission v Italy", Case C-339/13 (not yet published)

Please also find here some more information about the EU laying Hens legislation: and here:


Laying Hens Directive Infringement procedures: Greece and Italy brought before the EU Court of Justice




Brussels, 26 April 2013,

On 25th April 2013, the EU Commission announced that Greece and Italy will be refered before the EU Court of Justice for infringement of Directive 1999/74/EC ("the laying hens directive"). This is the last step of the infringement procedure laid down by Article 258 TFEU.

Continue reading Laying Hens Directive Infringement procedures: Greece and Italy brought before the EU Court of Justice