Europeans care about animals. Surveys – including those conducted on behalf of the EU Commission – show that citizens want to see a higher level of animal protection in EU legislation. Despite that, economic interests too often prevail over citizens’ demands and even over the demands of the European Parliament. Both have repeatedly requested the introduction of legislative changes to improve animal protection.
Animal welfare organisations across the EU have joined efforts, alongside their existing campaigns, to support those demands and ensure that more attention is given to animal welfare by the EU institutions, thus responding to the aims of Article 13 of the Treaty.
“The EU has produced specific legislation on animal welfare since 1974 and landmark laws have been put in place to phase out some of the most cruel farming practices,” says Pierre Sultana, FOUR PAWS European Policy Office Director, “However, while progress has been made, the fact that animal welfare is not included in the Commissioner’s job title creates a lack of accountability.”
Currently, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, is responsible for animal welfare, but this competence is not recognised in her job title. What might appear to be a minor change, in reality would embed the Commission's responsibility on this topic. Currently, the Commission's activities on animal welfare greatly depend on the Commissioner in place and even with a proactive Commissioner, having animal welfare in the title would improve accountability. This would be urgently needed in cases such as the cattle having been stuck on a vessel in the Mediterranean for almost three months now.
Animal welfare organisations from across Europe – including FOUR PAWS – are launching a joint campaign today; proposing to change the job title of the Commissioner into “EU Commissioner for Health, Food Safety and Animal Welfare”. This insertion would highlight the importance of this competence and increase accountability on such an important matter.
A joint petition is also being launched today, addressing various European institutions, to allow citizens to add their voices to our appeal. Everyone can sign online at www.euforanimals.eu .
No amendments to the European Treaty are required to implement this change, it is all down to political will.
Animal welfare in the EU will improve if this responsibility is emphasised and the relevant Commissioner is explicitly called upon to adopt a more proactive and progressive attitude on animal welfare on behalf of the whole European Commission.
Hannah KellerEuropean Communications Coordinator
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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, orangutans and elephants – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in twelve countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org