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Parliamentary questions
23 September 2002
Answer given by M. Byrne on behalf of the Commission

The Protocol on the protection and the welfare of animals annexed to the EC Treaty by the Treaty of Amsterdam states that the Community shall pay full regard to the welfare of animals in formulating Community policies on agriculture, transport, the internal market and research. It also stresses that religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage of Member States shall be respected.

Circuses would certainly be regarded as belonging to a long cultural tradition in some, if not the majority of Member States and the use of animals in these performances could be seen as part of this tradition.

The Commission is, moreover, of the opinion that there is currently no legal basis in Community law that would permit the introduction at Community level of a ban on all performing animals at circuses on animal welfare grounds.

Furthermore, in the absence of evidence that divergent national approaches were hindering the functioning of the internal market or other relevant Community objectives laid down in the EC Treaty, the Community's power to act on circuses is very limited. Therefore, the decision whether to ban animal performances at such events or to define under which welfare conditions they should be accepted remains a matter under the sole responsibility of the Member States.

OJ C 309 E, 12/12/2002 (p. 225)
Last updated: 13 January 2003Legal notice