Flemish animal welfare codex approved in committee

The Animal Welfare Committee in the Flemish Parliament approved the animal welfare codex of competent minister Ben Weyts on Wednesday.

“The codex is not perfect because it is the result of much consultation and compromise,” Weyts said on Wednesday. "But today, we are making progress with what lies ahead. The codex is not being voted on in the Brussels region, even though it does not go far enough on certain points. Unfortunately, nothing will happen in Brussels."

Introducing new rules and boosting existing ones

The codex bundles existing and new rules regarding animal welfare, such as prohibiting animal markets and home slaughter of sheep, goats or pigs. Alternative punishments, such as mandatory training and guidance, can be imposed on people who cause animal suffering.

The codex replaces the almost forty-year-old Animal Welfare Act and is based on the vision that every animal is a living being with feelings, specific needs and intrinsic value. Organisers of popular customs such as cockfights, goose riding or fish drinking are not given an exception.

Furthermore, certain practices are being abolished. The current chicken cages must be exchanged for aviary systems with free range. Chicken cages may also no longer be purchased new or replaced, as Flanders aims to get rid of chicken cages by 2036. Every slaughterhouse must also have a camera, animals captured in the wild may not be kept, and in every police zone someone must be designated as responsible for animal welfare.

Additionally, there will be a ban on dolphinariums except for the dolphins in the Boudewijn Seapark in Bruges. The park is also required to build an outdoor pool for the animals to increase their well-being. Every ten years it will be evaluated whether there is a worthy alternative to bring the dolphins.

Brussels' view on the codex

Regarding Brussels' stance on the codex, the final approval has been paused. PS fears that an amendment will be added to ban slaughter without stunning in parliament. Opposition parties MR, N-VA, CD&V and PS MP Julien Uyttendaele have therefore submitted the text to parliament themselves. However, last week a new opinion was requested from the Council of State, which may mean that the text will no longer be approved—this required signatures from Khadija Zamouri of Open VLD and Pascal Smet and Els Rochette of Vooruit.

"I think the PS is wrong," said Ludwig Vandenhove of Vooruit on Wednesday. "I have also said internally that this is not a good thing. I regret this."

Meyrem Almaci of Groen opposed the viewpoint that the codex in Brussels covers less than the Flemish one. For example, the Brussels codex does contain a ban on the import of puppies and kittens, she argued. She also says that the Flemish text lacks a ban on the trade of all live animals on markets and an approach to online trade.

#FlandersNewsService | © BELGA PHOTO INE GILLIS

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