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Parliamentary question - E-2915/2010(ASW)Parliamentary question

Answer given by Mr Dalli on behalf of the Commission

Today there is no specific EU legal framework related to the protection of dogs or other companion animals. The welfare conditions for keeping companion animals are under the exclusive competence of the Member States.

In 2009 the Commission mandated a consultant to evaluate the EU policy on animal welfare[1]. 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 sufficient grounds for proposing EU rules on the protection of companion animals. The European Parliament through the report on evaluation and assessment of the Animal Welfare Plan 2006‑10[2] has clearly expressed its wish to see the adoption of a general EU animal welfare law that will encompass all animals.

However already today Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport[3] is applicable to them where it is in connection with an economic activity.

As regards animal health, a comprehensive EU legislation is in place to ensure a safe trade in dogs, cats and ferrets within the EU. Where intended for trade between Member States, those animals must meet the relevant requirements of Directive 92/65/EEC[4] that since 3 July 2003 refers, with regard to specific health requirements, to Regulation (EC) No 998/2003[5] of the Council and of the Parliament laying down the animal health requirements applicable to the non-commercial movement of pet animals.

Day to day enforcement of EU legislation is the responsibility of the Member States. However, if it appears that a Member State fails to apply EU rules, the Commission may consider opening an infringement procedure under Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU[6].

With a view to the completion of the internal market, a specific EU legal framework regarding veterinary checks applicable to intra-Community trade in those animals has been laid down by Council Directive 90/425/EEC.

It provides that Member States shall carry out veterinary checks at the place of dispatch but may only carry out non-discriminatory veterinary spot checks at destination in order to ascertain that the consignments comply with the conditions laid down in Directive 92/65/EEC.

In the event of a serious presumption of irregularity likely to constitute a serious hazard to animals or humans, the Member State of destination (or transit) may order that the animal or the consignment of animals be put into quarantine at the nearest quarantine station or slaughtered and/or destroyed. Costs relating to those measures are to be borne by the consignor or his representative or the person responsible for the animals.

Moreover, in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council on official controls performed to ensure the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare rules, Member States shall lay down the rules on sanctions applicable to infringements of EU provisions relating to inter alia the protection of animal health and welfare and shall take all measures necessary to ensure that they are implemented. The sanctions provided for must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.