EU presidency: Belgium to press ahead with EU animal welfare proposal

As part of its EU presidency, Belgium is pulling out all the stops to highlight the importance of animal welfare over the coming months. This was evident on Monday during the Call to Care for Animal Welfare event.

A recent EU-wide survey showed that 84 per cent of Europeans believe the welfare of farm animals should be better protected, 83 per cent support limiting the travelling time of animals, and 74 per cent want their country to better protect the welfare of pets. It's an issue that goes beyond individual member states and requires greater cooperation at EU level.

Animal welfare advocate

Over the past decade, Belgium's three regions have been strong advocates for animal welfare within the EU. Each has its minister for Animal Welfare: Ben Weyts in Flanders, Celine Tellier in Wallonia and Bernard Clerfayt in Brussels.

"I warmly welcome the Belgian presidency's focus on animal health and welfare"

In her opening speech at the symposium on Monday in Brussels, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, expressed her support for the prioritisation of animal welfare: "I warmly welcome the Belgian presidency's focus on animal health and welfare over the next six months," she said. "Today's event shows that you care deeply about animal welfare."

Last December, the Commission proposed a comprehensive package of measures to improve animal welfare across Europe, marking the most significant reform of EU animal welfare legislation in the last two decades. The Belgian presidency aims to take these proposed measures forward in the coming months.

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This landmark proposal addresses the welfare of dogs and cats and recognises the significant growth in international trade in these pets. The keeping, breeding and selling of dogs and cats in the EU is a major and lucrative economic activity, estimated to be worth 1.3 billion euros a year.

The EU aims to establish uniform rules for breeding, housing, caring and treating these animals in all member states to prevent unethical practices in this booming industry.

Animal transport

The second aspect of the Commission's proposal focuses on the principle that animals should be transported in a way that protects their welfare. This includes revising current EU rules on animal transport to reduce journey times, to reduce repeated loading and unloading and to establish specific regulations for slaughter and vulnerable animals.

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The proposal also includes increasing the minimum space allowances for animals during transport based on the latest scientific advice, and stricter rules on transport in extreme temperatures, including limiting transport to nighttime when temperatures exceed 30 degrees.

This new initiative aims to improve the welfare of the more than 1.6 billion animals transported annually within the EU and across its borders.



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