Animal welfare rules must be enforced and offenders must be punished, say agriculture MEPs in a resolution adopted on Tuesday. The wellbeing of animals is closely linked to public health and good animal husbandry helps prevent the spread of diseases, they stress.
The non-binding resolution, passed by 34 votes to 3, with 4 abstentions, calls for a single set of EU-wide rules to crack down on those who break them and close loopholes.
"The failure to enforce animal welfare legislation leads to legal uncertainty, distortions of competition among producers in Europe and the deception of consumers. That's why we need a science-based European animal welfare framework law", said Marit Paulsen (ALDE, SE), who drafted the resolution in response to the Commission's Animal Welfare Strategy for 2012-2015 adopted in January.
Better controls and tough sanctions
Animal welfare rules are still being broken, despite some progress, say MEPs. They want member states to employ more inspectors and the EU Food and Veterinary Office to have more powers. Any breach of the rules must be properly penalised, with ample information on how to remove deficiencies, stress MEPs.
To avoid long delays in applying the rules, as happened with the laying hens directive, the committee calls for an early intervention system to allow the Commission to check at intervals whether member states can meet the deadline.
MEPs want new rules on labelling to prevent abuses and inform consumers about farming methods and animal welfare. For example, the derogation for un-stunned slaughtering has been exploited in some member states, leading to complaints in petitions to Parliament by European citizens. To close this loophole, MEPs ask the Commission to consider creating an un-stunned slaughter label. They also call for an EU-wide voluntary labelling scheme for meat and dairy products, to help consumers make more informed choices.
Trade with third countries
The committee stresses that equivalent welfare standards should apply to all imported animals and products to ensure a level-playing field for EU farmers and comparable quality standards for EU consumers.
All kept animals and pets to be covered
New animal-welfare legislation should also cover all kept animals, including dairy cows, but also cats, dogs and other domestic pets, which are currently not protected by any EU law.
The full House votes on the resolution in July. The Commission is expected to table an EU-wide animal welfare framework law in 2013.
Tuesday June 19, 2012/ European Parliament/ European Union.