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EU Commission: welfare laws must be updated

News Section Icon Published 10/6/2022

Caged piglet

We must keep up with the latest science and citizen’s opinions – that was the welcome conclusion of an extensive legislative review published yesterday by the EU commission.

The review, fitness check EU Animal Welfare legislation, was carried out to assess whether the existing rules are still fit for purpose. It relied on extensive desk research, consultation with various stakeholders, and a public consultation involving 60.000 citizens and stakeholders.

It concludes that as well as ending the use of cages for farmed animals, it must reduce fish pain during slaughter, and strengthen the rules on animal transport.

Key findings

In particular, the European Commission noted that:

  • On-farm welfare: the current legislation still allows the use of cages and other confining systems “that restrict significantly their movements and hamper [animal] welfare.”
  • Fish slaughter: scientists have recognised fish as sentient beings, but this is not reflected in the EU animal welfare legislation in the sense of specific requirements. Some farm fish slaughter methods continue to be inhumane, particularly by taking fish out of the water for a long period of time before they die.
  • Transport: 94% out of the nearly 60,000 respondents to their survey considered that the export of live animals to non-EU countries for slaughter should be prohibited.
  • Food labelling: the information provided to consumers is insufficient – providing more, better but also simpler information could lead to a better return on animal welfare investments.
  • Enforcement is desperately lacking, but better enforcement alone will not solve the issue as the current legislation is too weak and has too many gaps.

A lot of work ahead

The EU Commission concluded that the current legislation is 'outdated and needs to keep up with scientific findings, as well as societal demands’ and highlights that ‘a transition to more sustainable food systems cannot be envisaged without changes in food consumption patterns.’

Olga Kikou, our Head of EU, said: “The results from the evaluation of the animal welfare laws show, once again, that the EU has a lot of work to do before its animal welfare standards are up to date with the latest science and citizen’s expectations. We are thrilled to see that the shift to cage-free farming is once again high on the political agenda, as well as the recognition that the EU needs to protect fish and strengthen the current rules on animal transport. We particularly welcome the acknowledgement that we can’t have sustainable food systems without changing what we eat.

“We truly hope that the findings from this review will be translated into ambitious proposals to overhaul the outdated EU animal welfare rules, despite the continuous attempts by Big Agri-business lobbyists to keep the status quo alive, as long as possible. It is imperative that EU legislators do not give in to this pressure.”

The next steps

The proposals on a general law for on-farm welfare, transport, slaughter and labelling will all be part of a package expected to be published in October or November 2023.

Take action

We are urging our supporters to take action to press for the EU cage ban without delay.



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