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Veterinary affairs/animal welfare


Animal welfare in general

Measures in this area are based on the recognition that vertebrates are sentient creatures. The general aim is to ensure animals are spared any avoidable pain or suffering. Animal owners and keepers must comply with basic animal-protection requirements. The following are important Community animal welfare provisions:

  • Council Directive on the protection of farm animals
  • Council Directive on minimum standards for the protection of calves
  • Council Directive on minimum standards for the protection of pigs
  • Council Directive laying down minimum standards for the protection of laying hens
  • Council Regulation on the protection of animals during transport

Compared with other sectors of animal production, the keeping of chickens for meat production (broilers) is one of the most intensive forms of production, posing corresponding challenges with regard to the health and welfare of the animals concerned. Preparatory work began on a Council directive laying down minimum standards for the protection of broilers. This work was continued after a Council Regulation on the protection of animals during transport was adopted in June 2005.

A conference on animal welfare will be held in Brussels on 30 March 2006 as a key part of the European Action Plan on Animal Welfare drawn up by the Commission in 2005. At the conference, a number of animal welfare issues will be discussed with representatives of the Commission, WTO, OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) and various international non-governmental organisations.

Objective:

  • Adoption of EU-wide measures on the protection of chickens kept for meat production, in order to improve conditions in intensive production systems and create fair competition within the EU. The objective is to be achieved by laying down technical requirements and management regulations for chicken farms: closer monitoring at farms and improved communication between producers, the competent authorities and slaughterhouses, in particular by examining the carcases to detect any animal welfare problems on the farm.

Control of BSE

There are signs of a positive trend in BSE which can be attributed to the measures taken to reduce risk and the consistent implementation of BSE regulations in Member States. A substantial fall in the number of cases of BSE has been reported throughout the EU. In 2002, no fewer than 2 129 cases of BSE were reported in the 15 Member States. In 2004, this figure had fallen to around 850 in all 25 Member States. The clear improvement in the situation was achieved by the introduction of stringent provisions (in particular Regulation (EC) No 999/2001) at Community level, which also form the basis for a high level of food safety.

Objective:

  • Further development of the strategy to combat BSE based on new scientific reports and the recommendations of the European Food Safety Authority. Adaptation of the provisions to these scientific findings, while ensuring and maintaining the current level of consumer protection, will be discussed.
  • Creation of a basis for classifying third countries according to the BSE risk status in order to guarantee the health of human beings and animals, also with regard to international trade. The national conditions for this have already been laid down in the current recommendations of the Terrestrial Animal Health Code of the World Organisation for Animal Health.

 

Date: 20.12.2005