Answer given by Mr Dalli on behalf of the Commission
1. Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union does not constitute a legal base for EU initiative. It only creates an obligation to the EU and the Member States to pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals in formulating and implementing certain EU policies.
2. As regards the identification of owned dogs and cats, comprehensive legislation is in place to ensure their safe movements between Member States, in particular to prevent the spread of major diseases such as rabies. Dogs and cats must be individually marked by means of a tattoo or an electronic identifier (‘transponder’) — that will be the only means of marking an animal after 3 July 2011 — and have a valid anti-rabies vaccination documented in the passport issued by a veterinarian authorised by the competent authority. The passport establishes the link between the individually marked animal and its certified health status.
However, no EU harmonised legislation is in place in relation to abandoned dogs and cats. The matter falls under the sole responsibility of the Member States which shall lay down the penalties foreseen in case of infringements of national legislation. The Commission can only provide technical support of general initiatives to promote responsible ownership and proper population control like the guidelines on stray dog population control of the World Organisation for Animal Health.
3. The welfare of dogs and cats are being considered in the context of the ongoing preparation of an impact assessment ahead of a decision on a 2011‑15 EU strategy for the protection and welfare of animals. Within the same context, the Commission will also consider the request made in December 2010 by the Council of the European Union to perform for the first time at EU level studies on the welfare of dogs and cats and on their identification and registration(1).