At meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, ministers adopted conclusions on the protection and welfare of animals. This is in line with Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty, which states that, animals being sentient beings, the EU and the member states must pay full regard to their protection.
Ministers agreed that future work on the welfare of animals has to be based on a holistic approach and recognised that "the health of animals has an important impact on their welfare". Outcome-based indicators, they stated, cannot in all cases replace specific resource-based provisions.
While emphasising that it may be useful to simplify the current legislative framework in order to reduce the administrative workload of operators and authorities, ministers agreed that new means of increasing transparency and improving the information to consumers will have to be considered. They noted, however, that it will take more than the power of consumers for animals to be protected, and that both legislative and non-legislative measures to establish scientifically based minimum requirements remain indispensable. As regards the international level, the Commission was called upon to increase its efforts at ensuring a level playing field for EU and third-country operators.
Member states, the ministers stressed, should be able to apply "specific national rules aimed at ensuring more extensive protection of animals", as long as such rules are compatible both with EU legislation and the normal functioning of the internal market.
Monday June 18, 2012/ European Council/ European Union.