The European Commission called on Spain to take action to address deficiencies in the implementation of EU legislation on the welfare of animals at the time of slaughter. Specifically, Spain did not fulfil the obligations of Directive 93/119/EC on the protection of animals at the time of slaughter or killing, and of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 on the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare rules. The Commission is giving Spain two months to comply with its obligations. If Spain fails to fulfil its legal obligations, the Commission may refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.
Following several audits carried out by the Commission's Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) in Spain, continuous severe deficiencies were noted. Particularly the FVO noticed a persistent ineffective implementation of requirements in relation to restraining and stunning of animals, the equipment used, requirements for inspection, as well as the corrective measures to be taken, and sanctions imposed, where shortcomings are identified.
The deficiencies identified by the FVO related to two pieces of EU legislation:
- Directive 93/119/EEC on slaughtering practices aims to minimise the pain and suffering of animals through the use of properly approved stunning and killing methods, based on scientific knowledge and practical experience.
- Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 sets out the general rules for the performance of official controls for the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare requirements.
On this basis, Spain has two months to comply with the reasoned opinion, which is the second step in infringement proceedings. If Spain does not comply, or if the replies are not satisfactory, the Commission may bring the matter before the Court of Justice.
Where animals have to be killed to produce meat, or in connection with other farming activities their killing has to comply with EU animal welfare law. EU legislation stipulates that they must be killed in a way which avoids unnecessary suffering. Directive 93/119/EEC requires that animals are spared any avoidable excitement, pain or suffering during slaughter or killing and related operations, both inside and outside slaughterhouses. This general rule applies to movement, lairaging, restraint, stunning, slaughter or killing. Slaughterhouses must be built and equipped in respect of this rule. Staff employed for slaughtering must possess the necessary skill, ability and professional knowledge. Animals must be stunned before slaughter or killed instantaneously.
Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 lays down general rules for the performance of official controls to verify compliance with rules aiming, in particular, at preventing, eliminating or reducing risks to humans and animals and guaranteeing fair practices in feed and food trade and protecting consumer interest. It contains the obligation that national authorities carry out inspections, take corrective measures and impose sanctions.