Ever since the very first EU animal welfare legislation, enforcement has been a serious issue. That is why in 2012 the EU Commission focused primarily on enforcement in the framework of its new Animal Welfare Strategy. Also in 2012, as an outcome of the Conference on enforcement of animal welfare-related EU legislation, VIER PFOTEN’s European Policy Office created the EU Enforcement Network of Animal Welfare Lawyers and Commissioners. Its main aim was to improve the enforcement of EU animal welfare legislation in the Member States and to support the new EU Animal Welfare Strategy of the EU Commission.
Four years later, the small network of a dozen active animal welfare lawyers and commissioners has grown significantly, and now has more than 60 members from 20 different countries. Moreover, its website – partnered by the European Policy Office of VIER PFOTEN, the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE), the German Juridical Association for Animal Welfare Law (DJGT), the Swiss foundation 'Stiftung für das Tier im Recht', and the research group ADS/ALS of the Free University of Barcelona – has helped to share best practices and enforcement tools between the 28 Member States. The number of visits to the website shows that there is sustained interest in the Network all over Europe. In particular, in 2014 the Network established a working group on animal-related terms and definitions, and the report produced by this working group was used as a consultancy document in the drafting of the terms and definitions in the EU Animal Health Law.
"Today enforcement is still a big issue. This can be illustrated by the fact that since 2012, no fewer than 10 infringement procedures have had to be initiated against non-compliant States regarding the ‘sow-stall Directive’ and 13 regarding the ‘laying hens Directive’. Moreover, Member States have suggested including this issue in the framework of the announced ‘EU Animal Welfare Platform’. It was therefore the perfect time to renew the website, to share its resources in a more user-friendly way. We took time to analyse the website, the visitor data and the feedback received from diverse stakeholders, and from that point we decided to create a new website with a new structure."
Pierre Sultana, Director of the European Policy Office of VIER PFOTEN/FOUR PAWS.
As the enforcement and infringement of EU animal welfare legislation remain the main focus, the new website has been structured to enable users to evaluate and compare the Member States regarding these issues in a dynamic way. We have also enriched the website by including the results of the EU Audits on Animal Health and Welfare, and by adding more documents to support proper enforcement, such as guidelines, legal reports and studies. "Moreover, regarding the new challenges for animal health and welfare that we will have to face in the coming years, in particular in the context of the newly adopted EU Animal Health Law, we have decided to enlarge the membership of the Network to include veterinarians", Pierre Sultana added.
The new website is now available at the same address: www.lawyersforanimalprotection.eu
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