“Animal welfare should be a priority for the next five years” – Commissioner Andriukaitis
It also provided a showcase for the Platform’s own-initiative equines subgroup’s new guidelines for the responsible ownership of horses, and the similar work that has been carried out by the fish welfare own-initiative subgroup. The meeting, which also had live transport, the illegal pet trade and the welfare of pullets on the agenda, was the penultimate one for outgoing Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, who announced the extension of the Platform until June 2021.
In his speech, Andriukaitis said his message to the next Commissioner would be to keep animal welfare high on the next Commission’s agenda, “because it’s about climate change, Sustainable Development Goals, the use of resources, the circular economy, the reduction of carbon emissions, and it can educate society”. The meeting flagged that more resources will be needed to match such ambition if animal welfare is to be given the attention it requires.
One highlight of the meeting was the presentation of the impressive work of the own-initiative equines subgroup in developing their guidelines for the responsible ownership of horses, once again proving that own-initiative subgroups are the driving force of the Platform. The ‘Guide to good animal welfare practice for the keeping, care, training and use of horses‘ – which will be followed by the same for donkeys in the coming months – aim to improve the lives of horses in the EU and beyond by presenting comprehensive recommendations for good welfare practices. The audience called on the Commission to support the translation and dissemination of such documents, to make sure the work will have an impact for animals in real life.
The meeting also presented the progress of the subgroups on pig welfare and live transport. Regarding pigs, it was announced that the Commission is likely to launch infringement procedures against a group of Member States that are still non-compliant with the Pig Directive. This is important news, as the first ban on routine tail docking dates back to 25 years ago, and yet still the Commission has so far been failing to enforce the EU law.
Regarding the transport of live animals, we welcomed the Romanian Presidency’s statement that no animals should be loaded for live transport of temperatures throughout the journey exceed the maximum indicated in the regulation. In view of the forthcoming hot season Eurogroup for Animals has been promoting a suspension of long-distance transport.
The presentation of the results of the Commission’s Control Plan on online sales of dogs and cats. examined adverts for pets on sale in 17 Member States and Switzerland, finding that 60% of inspected adverts don’t give vaccine records and 80% don’t provide the ID of the animal. We believe that interlinked databases and mandatory requirements for the displaying of ID information online would go a long way towards ending the illegal pet trade. Follow-up steps in the next term should implement this solution.
“We welcome the work on the animal-based indicators on pig welfare, and once finalised, we trust these will used as future enforcement tools,” says Reineke Hameleers, director of Eurogroup for Animals. “Today’s meeting was also a great chance to see the first result of the equines and fish own-initiatives being presented. The work of this group continues to demonstrate that it is the Member States that are driving animal welfare progress at EU level. However, it’s disappointing that the Commission is trying to shift a lot of its responsibilities onto Member States. We hope that the new Commission will play its role and be more proactive in taking action on animal welfare.”
The EU Platform on Animal Welfare, which was inaugurated in 2017, collaborates with the Commission on the development and exchange of coordinated actions on animal welfare. It enables Member States, industry and NGOs to work on those animal welfare issues that can be resolved either through better implementation or enforcement, or through non-legislative means.
Eurogroup for Animals sits on the Platform together with member organisations Vier Pfoten, CIWF, World Animal Protection, RSPCA International, ORCA and World Horse Welfare.
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