Answer given by Mr Dalli on behalf of the Commission
Although animal welfare is not explicitly mentioned in the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT) 1994 or in other World Trade Organisation agreements, the Commission takes every opportunity to raise and to promote improved animal welfare standards at European and at international level.
The Commission is indeed working with its trading partners to raise awareness on animal welfare issues and build a common understanding on internationally recognised animal welfare standards. In this context, the voluntary inclusion of technical collaboration on animal welfare is proposed and discussed in all current and future negotiations in bilateral and multilateral veterinary, free trade and partnership and cooperation agreements with third countries.
In particular, the inclusion of animal welfare is being discussed in the ongoing negotiations for the bilateral with ASEAN countries and in particular in the ongoing negotiations for a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with China.
European legislation does not apply to third countries as the Union has no legal competence in relation to the welfare of animals kept in third countries such as China.
Furthermore the Union has even less competence to intervene in the enforcement of national measures taken by third countries.
As a consequence, the Commission is not in a position to take initiatives regarding bear farming in China; however, it considers that raising animal welfare awareness at international level is one of the key tools to improve the situation.
OJ C 286 E, 30/09/2011