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Parliamentary questions
28 June 2010
E-3631/2010
Answer given by Mr Dalli on behalf of the Commission

1. At present the EU legal instruments related to the protection of animals do not cover all animals.

In particular, in relation to the keeping of pet animals such as dogs, the Member States remain exclusively responsible for safeguarding their welfare conditions. Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport(1) is however applicable to the transport of live vertebrate animals where transport is carried out in connection with an economic activity.

In relation to stray dogs, no EU harmonised legislation is in place and the matter thus falls under the sole responsibility of the Member States. However, the Commission has actively supported the work performed by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to develop specific guidelines for the control of stray dog populations and for promoting its implementation. These guidelines were adopted by the 175 OIE Member Countries, including the 27 Member States of the EU, at the OIE General Session in May 2009.

The OIE guidelines on stray dog population control(2) are based on the main principle that the promotion of responsible dog ownership can significantly reduce the number of stray animals. Such guidelines outline objectives, evaluations and possible control measures to be implemented in combination according to the national and local context. Moreover it is clearly highlighted that euthanasia of dogs, used alone, is not a sustainable control measure and, if used, it should be done humanely and in combination with other measures to achieve effective long term results while respecting animal welfare.

2. In 2009 the Commission mandated a consultant to evaluate the EU policy on animal welfare(3). This study includes a section concerning companion animals. The results of the evaluation will be available by the end of 2010. Future EU initiatives in this field will be considered and in particular whether there are grounds of general interest for proposing EU rules on the protection of companion animals, while fully respecting the principles of conferral, subsidiarity and proportionality enshrined in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union.

In this context, the Commission will take into account the Parliament report on evaluation and assessment of the Animal Welfare Plan 2006-2010(4) where it has clearly expressed its wish to see the adoption of a general EU animal welfare law that will encompass all animals.

3. Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) obliges the Member States and EU institutions to pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals as sentient beings when formulating and implementing the Union’s agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development and space policies.

Since the proposed bill of the prefect of Bucharest referred to in the question does not appear to be implementing any of the Union’s policy in question, it cannot be considered to come within the scope of Article 13 TFEU.

4. The Commission considers that the OIE guidelines for the control of stray dog populations constitute a good guidance for the Member States to address the issue of stray dogs.

(1)OJ L 3, 5.1.2005.
(2)http://www.oie.int/eng/normes/mcode/en_chapitre_1.7.7.htm
(3)See more on this process at www.eupaw.eu
(4)A7-0053/2010 presented by Ms Marit Paulsen at the plenary session of 5.5.2010.

Last updated: 9 August 2010Legal notice