EU Commission Approves Animal Welfare Legislation

According to sources, the impact assessment of the revised animal welfare rules has been approved by the European Commission’s Regulatory Scrutiny Board. At the same time, the EU executive maintains that the review remains an “important priority”, despite the recent outcry against ecological files.

The European Commission is currently reviewing EU animal welfare legislation as part of the EU’s flagship food policy, the “Farm to Fork” strategy.

The proposal, which is due to be presented in September, has been subject to an impact analysis of the various options available to the executive.

Despite concerns about the timing of the proposal, sources familiar with the matter told EURACTIV that this impact assessment had received a positive opinion from the Regulatory Scrutiny Board, the Commission’s independent quality control body which advises the College of Commissioners.

A Commission spokesperson told EURACTIV that, in line with the committee’s mandate, its opinions on draft impact assessments will be “made public once the Commission has adopted the corresponding policy initiative”.

With the green light from the Control Committee, the Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) will circulate the proposal in order to obtain a formal opinion from the other Directorates-General as part of the preparatory work of the EU executive.

In addition, the EU executive refuted rumors that the review was not among its priorities.

“The Commission has been promoting animal welfare for over 40 years,” the spokesperson said, adding that it is an “important priority” for Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner Stella Kyriakides and Ursula von der Leyen’s Commission.

Likewise, the head of DG SANTE’s “animal welfare” unit, Andrea Gavinelli, said at a recent event that the EU executive “is working on the preparation of the proposal and at its full capacity”. She remained positive about the future of the proposal, stating that “ the picture we have of the situation today is the best we have had in recent years ”.

Optimistic but realistic
However, despite the success of this first step, there is still a long way to go to negotiate the text that the Commission will propose – and the European elections of June 2024 could be a game-changer.

Tilly Metz, Green MEP and member of Parliament’s main committee on the file (ENVI), said that “we are seeing the brakes on the European Green Deal in general from the Conservatives and also from some Liberals”, in particular animal welfare legislation as part of the “farm to fork” strategy.

“ It really depends on the Commission that we have this text […] because the elections of June 9, 2024 are quite close ”, she added.

She stressed that “serious work” must be done before the elections, even if “it will be difficult to complete [the work]”.

In addition, socialist MEP Pascal Durant also underlined his “fear” regarding the situation after the 2024 elections. For him, a far-right parliament would be “very, very bad news for animal welfare, for the Green Pact [and] for everything”.

“So I want to be optimistic […], but we also have to be realistic,” he concluded.

Nevertheless, for NGOs following this dossier, the approval of the regulatory scrutiny board gives reason for optimism.

Joe Moran, director of the European policy office of animal welfare NGO FOUR PAWS, said that “this positive response from the regulatory review board confirms that the upcoming animal welfare proposals, apart from being long awaited by citizens, make economic sense”.

“If we consider that this green light comes after a thorough assessment by one of the Commission’s toughest independent bodies, this is good news,” he added.

However, the EU executive’s ambitions are still coming up against concerns and criticism from farming organisations, such as European farmers’ association COPA-COGECA, which recently commissioned its own impact assessment on the potential ban on animal cages.

The study revealed that the production of pigs and poultry would drop and that “significant investments” would have to be made.

“This study only demonstrates an obvious fact: the choice of the transition period will have major consequences on production, the profitability of farmers, the increase in prices for consumers and the effects of concentration”, declared Miguel Angel Higuera, president of the working group on animal welfare of the agricultural association.

This article is originally published on euractiv.fr

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