On 8th March 2016, the Regulation of the European Parliament and Council on transmissible animal diseases, and amending and repealing certain acts in the area of animal health (‘Animal Health Law’), was passed in the European Parliament by a broad majority. The text, initially introduced in 2013 by the European Commission, had undergone significant changes and was massively criticised for the absence of animal welfare provisions. In particular, FOUR PAWS initiated a campaign entitled ‘Wild? Me?’ two years ago in order to change the critical definition contained in this legislation, which aimed to consider domestic animals as wild animals when they have no owner or are abandoned.
With the vote after the first reading in April 2014, the European Parliament showed its will to integrate more animal welfare concerns into this text, and also to require from the Member States the establishment of the mandatory identification and registration of dogs and cats before 2018. However, during the negotiations between the Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament, this traceability duty was rejected. However, the final text includes article 113, which includes the registration of establishments owning animals including commercial pet breeders, and article 114, with the possibility for the European Commission to adopt delegated acts aiming to establish detailed requirements for the identification and registration of companion animals. In particular, the European Parliament voted two weeks ago in favour of a resolution asking the European Commission to adopt such a delegated act.
Although the distinction between animals kept in captivity and wild animals was maintained in the final text, the preamble of the legislation clearly explains that stray animals are not wild animals. Moreover, the general principle of the responsibility of public authorities for stray animals was strongly affirmed, including a requirement to treat stray animals humanely, protecting them from pain, distress and suffering.
"Although we regret that some good animal welfare measures voted in the first reading have not been kept in the final text, we welcome this legislation as the fruit of a common effort by the animal welfare sector constituting a concrete first step for the establishment of mandatory identification and registration of companion animals in Europe. We also warmly welcome the clear recognition of the unbreakable link between animal health and animal welfare."
Pierre Sultana, Director of the European Policy Office of VIER PFOTEN/ FOUR PAWS
Through its CAROdog (www.carodog.eu) and CAROcat (www.carocat.eu) projects and the CARO EU Canine and Feline traceability experts group, FOUR PAWS has recently sent to EU institutions a concrete proposal to establish, via a delegated act, the responsible ownership of dogs and cats by improving the traceability of these animals.
- FOUR PAWS ‘Wild? Me?’ Campaign.
- The adoption process of the Animal Health Law.
Previous FOUR PAWS Press Releases regarding the Animal Health Law:
- 02.06.2015: Success for the FOUR PAWS Wild? Me? Campaign: EU recognises that homeless cats and dogs are not wild.
- 15.04.2014: New EU Animal Health Law: FOUR PAWS welcomes steps towards more welfare for all companion animals including strays.
- 11.02.2014: Animal Health Law: AGRI Committee asks for more animal welfare and the registration of all dogs.
- 05.12.2014: Stray dogs and cats are NOT wild animals!
- FOUR PAWS disapproves of the European Commission’s plans to consider stray domestic animals as wild animals.
Summary of the Plenary Debate
On 7th March 2016, during the Plenary Session of the European Parliament, the final text of the Animal Health Law was debated.
MEP Jasenko Selimovic, Rapporteur for the Animal Health Law, stressed that the adoption of this law will have a great impact not only on animals, but mainly on human health by enabling better prevention against transmissible diseases. He pointed out that for the first time in the EU, there will be concrete EU legislation involving both animal and human health at the same time.
MEP Albert Dess noted that this new EU regulation will implement concrete rules concerning the prevention of listed diseases.
MEP Janusz Wojciechowski recalled the recent vote by the EU Parliament on a motion for a resolution on the identification and registration of cats and dogs (on the basis of the Animal Health Law) and underlined that the sterilization of stray dogs and cats should be subsidised by the EU.
The protection of animals from stress and pain – especially during transport to slaughterhouses – was also mentioned during the debate. Additionally, MEP Franz Obermayer admitted that antibiotics are overused in treating animals, and consumer awareness of the impact of eating contaminated meat is increasing, so that the EU needs to constrain the use of antibiotics when they are not necessary. It was stressed that the consumption of meat involving antibiotics is threating human health. Furthermore, MEP Clara Eugenia Aguilera Garcia stressed that the EU should prioritise the proper treatment of animals with medicines which don’t have an impact on human health. Moreover, MEP Marijana Petir also underlined that the excessive use of antibiotics in treating animals is an improper farming practice, which can no longer be accepted in the EU.
It was also pointed out by the MEPs that there is a need to have a proper organisation in order to comply with the Animal Health Law in all EU Member States.
All MEPs agreed on the great importance of the Animal Health Law, which will contribute to ensure a better and safer agricultural sector (mentioning veterinarians, farmers, and professionals) due to appropriate measures and the setting of transparent goals and requirements.
MEP Jasenko Selimovic stressed that for the first time in the EU we will have a clear link between animal health and human health and perfect instruments to implement it.
FOUR PAWS is an international animal welfare organisation with headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Founded by Heli Dungler in 1988, the organisation strives to help animals in need with sustainable campaigns and projects. The work is based on substantiated research and scientific expertise as well as intensive national and international lobbying. FOUR PAWS focuses on animals that are directly under human influence: stray dogs and stray cats, farm animals, companion animals and wild animals including bears, big cats and orang-utans kept in inappropriate conditions. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Kosovo, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA and Vietnam, FOUR PAWS aims to help animals in need directly and quickly. www.four-paws.org