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Animal welfare rules are coming under greater scrutiny at EU level with transport & labelling a key focus. Animal welfare is a key competent of the EU Commission’s newly launched flagship food policy, the Farm to Fork strategy.

Amongst the key actions to be undertaken within the strategy is an evaluation and revision of animal welfare legislation particularly with regard to transport and slaughter.

The first steps of this evaluation have already been taken with a review of the EU Animal Welfare Strategy 2012-2015.

You can read the ICOS response to the public consultation on this here

A general evaluation of EU animal welfare rules is also ongoing, with a public consultation currently open for stakeholders to provide feedback.

The deadline is 29th July and relevant information and documents on the consultation can be found here

This evaluation will take more than a year, with a Commission working document to be published on the findings in early 2022. New legislative proposals are then expected in 2023, following an impact assessment.

The European Parliament is also hoping to feed into this evaluation and have set up an Inquiry Committee on live animal transport. An Inquiry Committee is an investigative instrument that the Parliament can decide to establish in order to address pressing societal issues and this is the third such committee in the Parliament’s history.

The Committee will assess the major barriers currently impeding the enforcement of the Transport Regulation, and will also be tasked with examining the responsibilities of the EU Commission and member states in enforcing and implementing the rules. While the committee will not be able to make any new legislative proposal regarding animal welfare, it can search for the support of National Parliaments in the Member States to seek higher standards on animal welfare and other issues that may occur during transport across the EU.

The Farm to Fork Strategy also calls for a discussion on the concept of an animal welfare label on agri-food products. To address this, the EU Animal Welfare Platform, a consultative stakeholder group, run by the European Commission, of which ICOS’s Ray Doyle is a representative, has created a new subgroup on Animal Welfare Labelling.

This subgroup, which will be made up of country representatives, business organisations and civil society, is to provide technical expertise and opinions to the Commission on the ways the Union’s instruments and policies can better inform consumers on the welfare of animals whilst offering farmers incentives for improving it. In addition, the Commission is planning to organise an external study to explore the different options for animal welfare labelling which will begin by the end of 2020/beginning of 2021.

Alison Graham – European Affairs Executive