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The new Commission: A new impetus for animals?

10.9.2019

The letters of the European Commission’s President-elect, Ursula von der Leyen, to the nominees of the European Commission

While Ursula von der Leyen held a press conference unveiling the new college of Commissioner designate, the mission letters for each nominee were being made available on the Commission’s website. FOUR PAWS welcomes the list of candidates by President Ursula von der Leyen and is pleased to see that Executive Vice President-designate Frans Timmermans, has been appointed to manage the European Green Deal. With this portfolio, the Dutchman’s main challenge will be to break the traditional silos between Agriculture, Animal Welfare (which will remain under Health) and the Environment. FOUR PAWS wishes Frans Timmermans the best of success in transitioning agriculture towards a system which effectively respects the triangle “humans-animals-environment”.

The first, very encouraging sign of this transition is the placement of the Polish Commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski, in charge of DG Agriculture. FOUR PAWS applauds this initiative. Mr Wojciechowski has been always keen in improving the welfare of animals and steering agriculture towards more humane production methods as a member of the European Parliament and President of the Parliamentary Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals. As a Member of the Court of Auditors, he has been keen to evaluate the performance of the European legislation on Animal Welfare. We wish him good luck in leading the negotiations on a post-2020 Common Agriculture Policy which, according to Ms von der Leyen, “must be ambitious in terms of food security and environmental and climate objectives”.

Former Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan has been nominated to take over EU’s Trade portfolio. During the last mandate; the Irishman was very efficient in opening new market opportunities for European farmers. In his new role, Phil Hogan will be in position to protect European farmers and consumers from substandard - in terms of animal welfare - imports from non-EU countries. We trust that Mr Hogan will continue the work of his predecessor, Cecilia Malmström, and would like to challenge him to introduce clear animal welfare provisions in all trade negotiations concluded by the EU during his mandate.

The key topic of animal welfare will stay in the Health portfolio, allocated to the Cypriot Stella Kyriakides. The Commissioner-designate for Health has been assigned with a very ambitious agenda, that includes driving a new ‘farm to fork’ strategy for sustainable food. We look forward to seeing how the new Commissioner will combine this strategy with other parts of her portfolio, such as consumer information and animal welfare, especially with regard to the very successful European Citizens’ Initiative on ending cages in farming. Along with her DG, the future Commissioner will be mandated to ensure the enforcement of animal welfare legislation, to review the current animal welfare strategy and to promote European standards globally. We look forward to a fruitful collaboration with Ms Kyriakides.

Last but not least, the Lithuanian Virginijus Sinkevičius has been nominated for the position of Commissioner for Environment and Oceans. Putting forward a new Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and reaching an ambitious agreement at the Conference of the Parties 2020 on the Convention on Biological Diversity will be two of the most important targets of his mandate.

Link to the Commission website: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/interim/commissioners-designate