Euractiv 450x300

Open Letter: 637 stakeholders call on Ursula von der Leyen to publish animal welfare proposals in current political term [Promoted content]

​ ​ 

Dear President Ursula von der Leyen,

We, the undersigned stakeholders, jointly call on the European Commission to stay true to the commitments taken in the EU Farm to Fork Strategy to publish the draft proposal of the revision of the animal welfare legislation during the current political term.

As the revision of the animal welfare legislation moves towards its due publication date in Q3 of 2023, the undersigned stakeholders wish to express their expectation and full support for the swift publication of a future-focussed and comprehensive legislative proposal within this political term.

The current animal welfare legislation is outdated and in need of an urgent update to respond to societal expectations and scientific evidence, both of which have evolved dramatically while EU animal welfare rules have largely remained unchanged.

The existing legislation does not adequately serve the demonstrated concerns of European citizens. The revision of the animal welfare legislation is a key priority for EU citizens, as demonstrated by the exceptionally high participation in the 2022 public consultation organised by the European Commission around the fitness check of the outdated rules. An overwhelming majority (92% – 54 504 of 59 281) of the respondents thought that the current EU animal welfare legislation does not ensure adequate and uniform protection of all animal species in need. The importance of animal welfare to EU citizens is also demonstrated by the fact that five of the ten successful European Citizens’ Initiatives were related to animal welfare.
The existing legislation does not reflect current scientific knowledge and therefore cannot guarantee acceptable levels of animal welfare. Over 181,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers on animal welfare have been published in the last 25 years. In light of the advancements in scientific knowledge and technology, the existing directives and regulations can be readily deemed outdated and insufficient in protecting the welfare of animals in Europe. The latest European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opinions also show that, at present, animal welfare legislation is no longer fit for purpose. Furthermore, EFSA has also highlighted the need for clearly defined, measurable and harmonised on-farm animal welfare indicators and concluded that improvement would be difficult to achieve without these guidelines. Protections to the welfare of animals throughout the production chain (from birth to slaughter) contain critical areas of collective concern that can no longer be overlooked. The existing legislation has also proven difficult for Member States to enforce, with the recent report by the European Court of Auditors drawing attention to this critical gap.
Delay in the release of updated animal welfare legislation will cost European farmers and food businesses. A revised EU animal welfare legislation will not only benefit the animals. It will also offer a level playing field for businesses across Europe, particularly the ones that have already made animal welfare commitments.

At this moment, market forces, environmental considerations and outdated infrastructure are forcing farmers to make decisions on their next round of investments in renovating their farms. The systems selected for adoption will have an enormous impact on animal welfare for decades to come. A revised animal welfare legislation will provide guidance and security needed to make decisions that are fit for the purpose of higher welfare, but also fit for the future of businesses. Such revised legislation will also constitute a financial guarantee when it comes to getting loans for higher welfare investments, as well as better financing opportunities. Furthermore, provided that the new animal welfare rules apply to imported products, EU farmers will benefit from fair competition when placing products in the European market.

Finally, a stronger and updated animal welfare legislative framework will complement the EU Farm to Fork strategy in its aims to make the European food system fair, healthy and more sustainable. Improving animal welfare standards is an important component of this endeavour, while also representing the expressed environmental, societal, ethical and economic interests of European citizens, businesses and governments alike.

For these reasons we, the undersigned stakeholders, deem it necessary that an updated, strong and encompassing proposal of the EU animal welfare legislation is published swiftly by the current European Commission.

For the full list of signatories please check Further Reading.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *