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Procedure : 2006/2046(INI)
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Document selected : A6-0290/2006

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PV 11/10/2006 - 19
CRE 11/10/2006 - 19

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PV 12/10/2006 - 7.25
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Thursday, 12 October 2006 - Brussels
The protection and welfare of animals 2006-2010

European Parliament resolution on a Community Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2006-2010 (2006/2046(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission communication to the European Parliament and the Council on a Community Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2006-2010 (COM(2006)0013) (Action Plan),

–   having regard to the Commission Working Document on a Community Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2006-2010 - Strategic basis for the proposed actions (COM(2006)0014 and SEC(2006)0065),

–   having regard to the Protocol on protection and welfare of animals annexed to the EC Treaty (Treaty of Amsterdam),

–   having regard to Council Directive 86/609/EEC of 24 November 1986 on the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States regarding the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes(1),

–   having regard to Community rules on the protection of livestock,

–   having regard to the seventh framework programme for research and technological development and demonstration activities (2007-2013), which is currently under preparation (COM(2005)0119) (Seventh Research Framework Programme),

–   having regard to the Commission communication to the Spring European Council entitled 'Working together for growth and jobs – A new start for the Lisbon Strategy' (COM(2005)0024),

–   having regard to the Commission's Impact Assessment Guidelines of 15 June 2005 (SEC(2005)0791),

–   having regard to the mandate given to the Commission for the WTO negotiations in the field of agriculture, as laid down in the Commission's Proposal for Modalities in the WTO Agriculture Negotiations (document reference 625/02) of January 2003,

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the opinions of the Committee on International Trade and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A6-0290/2006),

A.   whereas all action designed to ensure the protection and welfare of animals should be based on the principle that animals are sentient beings whose specific needs should be taken into account, and also that the protection of animals is an expression of humanity in the 21st century and a challenge facing European civilisation and culture,

B.   whereas in recent years Europe has adopted wide-ranging animal protection legislation and achieved one of the highest levels of animal protection in the world and whereas the European Parliament has repeatedly stressed that it regards this process as essential; whereas a high level of animal protection in Europe meets the demands of the public for ethically and socially acceptable products,

C.   whereas animal protection affects a number of policy areas and is relevant to many ethical, social, political and economic issues; whereas animal protection should not be confined to the protection and welfare of animals used in experiments or farm animals, but should cover all animals,

D.   whereas there is a link between animal protection, animal health and product safety; whereas alternative testing methods and a high level of animal protection from breeding through to slaughter can have a positive impact on product safety and quality,

E.   whereas, in order to further develop animal protection in the Community, it is necessary to step up research efforts and to integrate animal protection into all relevant impact assessments, as well as to involve all interest groups in the decision-making process; whereas transparency and acceptance as well as uniform application of, and monitoring of compliance with, existing provisions at all levels are a prerequisite for a successful animal protection strategy in Europe,

F.   whereas the aim of an animal protection strategy should include a commitment ot meet the increased costs entailed by animal protection; whereas, without a European and worldwide dialogue and a strong information strategy at home and abroad highlighting the benefits of high animal protection standards, an ambitious animal protection policy can achieve only limited success if it is developed only unilaterally by the EU,

G.   whereas it is essential that EU animal protection policy is accompanied by a coherent trade policy and one which recognises the fact that, in spite of the EU's efforts, animal welfare concerns were not addressed by either the July 2004 Framework Agreement or any other key documents of the Doha round of WTO negotiations; whereas, therefore, no further animal welfare standards which could have negative effects on the international competitiveness of producers until there is a fundamental change in the attitude of the EU's main partners in the WTO,

H.   whereas recognition of the so-called non-trade concerns, which include animal welfare, has not been a priority for the Commission in its WTO negotiations; whereas recognition of non-trade concerns is consequently not expected to form part of any final agreement unless the Commission changes tack dramatically in the negotiations,

I.   whereas there is a danger that, an effective strategy to promote the welfare of farm animals that is confined to the European market may result in the elimination of a fringe of European producers,

J.   whereas any harmonisation of the protection of farm animals within the EU should be accompanied by the regulation of imports to the same end in order to avoid placing European producers at a disadvantage on the European market,

K.   whereas the implementation of the Three Rs principle (replacement, reduction and refinement) (3Rs) in order to reduce the use of animals in research, science and product authorisation is a cornerstone of European animal protection policy,

1.  Welcomes the Community Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2006-2010, which, for the first time, translates the Protocol on protection and welfare of animals annexed to the Amsterdam Treaty into an integrated approach to developing animal protection in Europe;

2.  Is concerned that the Commission merely proposes to 'strive to ensure' that full regard is paid to animal welfare in the context of related policy fields;

3.  Considers it imperative to introduce a process for assessing the EU's animal welfare policy in fulfilling its legal obligations, as set out in the Protocol on protection and welfare of animals annexed to the Treaty;

4.  Regards improved animal protection as a permanent obligation of the Community, and therefore calls on the Commission to report in due course on the progress achieved and, on that basis, to submit a communication on taking forward the Action Plan after 2010;

5.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, within the scope of their respective areas of competence, further to develop animal protection and to take full account of the protection and welfare of all animals; calls on the Commission to work towards ensuring that piglets are castrated under anaesthetic from the seventh day throughout Europe;

6.  Regrets that the focus of European policy on animal welfare has so far been almost exclusively on the welfare and protection of farm animals;

7.  Welcomes the efforts by the Commission to develop and improve legislation on animal protection as well as the greater integration of animal protection into all Community policy areas and the use of the whole spectrum of possible measures (such as legislation, voluntary codes of good practice, training, promotion and research) with the aim of ensuring a high level of animal protection in the handling of animals in all areas; considers it to be a priority, in this connection, to focus the legislative approach – when it is justified – on a common basis on which additional initiatives could be pursued voluntarily, acknowledged by ad hoc labelling;

8.  Stresses that, in order to improve or newly draft minimum standards relating to the protection of animals and animal welfare, it is necessary to agree a priority list, which should clearly name the species of animal and define the problems; considers that, in the next few years, such a priority list should comprise the following animal species: dairy cattle, adult bovine animals, aquaculture animals, fattening pigs and turkeys;

9.  Considers that, since the role of each of these mechanisms will be different, policy research will be essential in identifying these roles and articulating them to stakeholders;

10.  Notes that many EU policies have impacts on animal protection, which are not covered by the Action Plan, such as sustainable development, the CITES Convention(2) and trade and marketing standards, and underlines the importance of paying full regard to animal protection issues in all relevant policy areas;

11.  Points out that, when introducing higher animal protection and welfare standards, account should be taken of the specific situation of individual EU regions;

12.  Stresses that the Commission ensures the implementation of all the animal protection provisions in EU law which are currently valid and that these should remain in force;

13.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that all legislation is uniformly applied and monitored in the EU on the basis of cross-compliance rules and, in the event of any infringement, to take rigorous action in order to maintain confidence in the rules in force and ensure fair competition in the EU;

14.  Considers that it is necessary to consider the socio-economic effects of adopting measures to improve animal protection;

15.  Calls on the Commission to integrate, on a systematic basis, the relevant impact assessments for all animal protection measures; considers that all impact assessments relating to new animal protection standards must examine all of the ethical, social and economic effects and must be based on the latest scientific knowledge, practical experience and developments at the international level; considers that these should highlight positive effects and take full account of the way in which different factors, such as animal protection, sustainability, animal health, the environment and product quality, impact on each other;

16.  Acknowledges that high animal welfare standards lead to additional costs for farmers and considers that specific measures are necessary in order to prevent production displacement to those countries which have lower standards; calls on the Commission, therefore, to take account of job-security aspects when carrying out impact assessments; considers that an accurate analysis of the costs of new proposals and their effects on the position of the business and research communities affected in the face of international competition is essential, in accordance with the revised Lisbon Strategy;

17.  Points out that setting appropriate implementation deadlines, which take account of the numbers of animals and the size of businesses involved and avoid unnecessary red tape in connection with inspections and documentation will help to ensure a greater acceptance of the importance of animal protection on the part of those responsible; considers that the opportunities presented by the use of modern technologies and methods need to be adequately explored;

18.  Stresses that animal protection and animal health impact closely on each other; considers that the Action Plan should be implemented as far as possible in such a way as to ensure that, through greater animal protection, improvements in animal health are achieved and that animal health policy also always aims to bring about improvements in animal protection and that such improvements are measurable;

19.  Calls on the Commission to take greater account of animal protection aspects in the fight against animal diseases; considers that the vaccination of animals in certain regions in the case of emergencies is preferable to the killing of large numbers of healthy animals, albeit recognising the different attitudes to vaccination in each Member State and their potential effects on trade; considers moreover that, where technically possible, there ought to be greater scope for preventive vaccination; calls on the Commission to increase its efforts to adapt relevant treaties of the World Organisation for Animal Health (Office International des Epizooties, OIE) accordingly, so that there are fewer trade restrictions as regards products originating from vaccinated animals;

20.  Welcomes the greater emphasis placed on animal protection under the Common Agricultural Policy; points out, however, that the resulting bureaucratic costs are already significantly too high; regrets, furthermore, the fact that the cut in funding for rural development policy will create practical obstacles to the financing of aid for stockbreeders to adapt to the Community rules on animal welfare; regrets that poultry and pig farmers are not being compensated for complying with Community animal welfare legislation under the cross-compliance schemes;

21.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, within the framework of rural development policy, to consider favourably the use of all instruments available for animal protection;

22.  Points out that, in practice, the EC rules on the transport of animals (Regulation (EC) No 1/2005(3) and Directive 95/29/EC(4)) are frequently disregarded, particularly in regard to the requirements to rest,, water and feed the animals; calls, therefore, upon the Council and the Commission to take appropriate action in order to ensure that the Member States increase the number and the effectiveness of the checks carried out on the application of EC rules;

23.  Points out that, with regard to the transport of animals, it is absolutely essential to introduce and take account of scientifically-based animal protection indicators (relating to suitable technology, time frames, trained staff) and that when those indicators are established, account should be taken of variations in climate between Member States, in view of the varying kevels of adaptation of animals to the environment; calls on the Commission, therefore, to promote research aimed at defining and introducing objective and specific technical parameters enabling a better definition of animal welfare during transport, with a view, additionally, to defining integrated certification systems which will also take account of the influence of the various climatic and structural characteristics of Europe's regions on the animals and on transport modes and times;

24.  Points out that by 2010 the Commission should submit a report to the European Parliament and the Council on space allowances and maximum journey times for animals being transported, accompanied by appropriate legislative proposals;

25.  Considers that the support for the 3Rs and support for future trends in animal welfare research are two separate issues and that Objective 4 of the Action Plan should be divided into two objectives to reflect this;

26.  Welcomes the research efforts announced in the field of animal protection; considers that, in addition to generally widening the knowledge base, research should focus on the development of animal health indicators that are transparent and easy to apply, certification and labelling systems and alternatives to animal testing (3Rs);

27.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that, where appropriate scientific indicators have been developed, they should be included in existing and new animal protection legislation to the greatest extent possible; in other words, preference should be given to goal prescriptions instead of means prescriptions;

28.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that any future revision of the rules on animal welfare is based on objective indicators, so as to avoid arbitrary decisions having unjustified economic repercussions for stockbreeders;

29.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that adequate resources are made available for research into the protection and welfare of all animals under the Seventh Framework Programme in order to achieve the objectives of the Action Programme; urges that particular stress be laid on research aimed at establishing objective indicators for animal welfare, and that account be taken of climate variations across the EU when those indicators are established;

30.  Calls on the Commission to support research and development concerning electronic systems for animal identification;

31.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that technology platforms and research work undertaken under the Six Research Framework Programme which, as for example in the case of 'PredTox', will make a significant contribution to achieving the objectives of the Action Programme, are able to be continued under the Seventh Research Framework Programme without entailing red tape;

32.  Considers that it is necessary fully to take account of the 3Rs principle; welcomes the efforts by the Commission to develop Directive 86/609/EEC; encourages the Commission to submit relevant legislative proposals during 2006; desires the Commission to set out, in this connection, how uniform implementation and monitoring of the provisions can be ensured;

33.  Considers that as part of the proposed revision of EU legislation on animal testing the scope of Directive 86/609/EEC should be widened to cover basic research and research using animals for teaching purposes;

34.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that industry contributions to replacing animal testing agreed through the European Partnership on Alternative Approaches are effective, open to scrutiny and delivered in time; Calls on the Commission to improve provisions for the sharing of vertebrate animal test data and the avoidance of duplicate animal testing and to apply these to all areas of animal experimentation, and all legislation requiring animal testing, including the sharing of data from unpublished and negative studies;

35.  Calls on the Commission to plead at an international level, notably at the WTO and the OIE, for a single legislative standard for requirements relating to animal protection and animal testing in connection with product authorisation and for the recognition of alternative protection methods validated in Europe; considers that the development, validation and acceptance of non-animal methods must be accelerated and that increased funding, personnel and administrative support must be provided at every stage to ensure the fastest possible replacement of animal experimentation;

36.  Calls upon EU regulatory bodies to accept without delay the non-animal tests already validated by the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods;

37.  Recognises that poor quality science is both unethical and a waste of resources and that the EU should require that all new, revised and existing human and environmental safety tests be fully validated in accordance with modern standards before such tests are required, recommended or endorsed under Community legislation or strategies;

38.  Calls on the Commission, before setting up an additional Community body for animal protection, to improve links between existing Community institutions which deal with animal protection issues;

39.  Welcomes the efforts by the Commission to develop and explore the use of animal protection labelling; considers that such labelling would enable consumers to make informed purchasing decisions; considers that it should be aimed to include processed products in such a labelling system;

40.  Considers that consumers should be informed and prepared to pay higher prices for products originating from farms with higher animal welfare standards and that these products should be appropriately labelled;

41.  Considers that the submission of a Commission report to the European Parliament and the Council by 2008 concerning the possibility of a compulsory labelling system for chicken meat and meat products based on compliance with animal welfare standards should concentrate particularly on compliance with animal welfare standards that transcend the minimum requirements; takes the view that a labelling programme based on standards higher than the legal minimum would solve the recognised problem faced by consumers who would like to buy a product which has been produced with particular concern for animal welfare but are unable to identify such products in the shops;

42.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that labelling is transparent, easily comprehensible and reliable; considers that an 'EU label', stating, for example, 'produced in accordance with EU animal protection standards', and - for non-complying products - 'not produced in accordance with EU animal protection standards', would already imply a guarantee of compliance with the animal protection standard of a simple and mandatory nature for all products sold in Europe; considers that in the case of protection going beyond that required by the minimum standards, a specific reference on the label would inform the consumer about the additional efforts made by the producer, increase pressure on trading partners to adopt EC animal protection standards and, by doing so, enable Europe to export its animal welfare standards globally; emphasises the role of private labels particularly as regards higher animal welfare standards;

43.  Calls for financial support by the Commission for national information and sales promotion measures for animal food products pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1071/2005(5) to be awarded on the basis of production standards relating to animal welfare; takes the view, therefore, that a European Quality Standard for products emanating from high animal welfare production systems, as suggested in the Action Plan, should therefore be established as a matter of priority;

44.  Welcomes the proposal to facilitate the recognition by consumers of the proposed marketing and information systems, but at the same time stresses the necessity to facilitating their application for the benefit of all players in the food-production chain;

45.  Fundamentally supports the announced intention to develop and explore the use of integrated and uniform animal protection indicators; considers that such indicators must have a sound scientific basis, must be objective, measurable and replicable, and must help ensure that animal protection standards are transparent; considers it necessary to integrate animal health aspects into such indicators; considers that integrated and uniform indicators should facilitate monitoring, reduce red tape and yield scientific results that are comparable between Member States;

46.  Calls on the Commission to complete the development of, and research into, integrated animal protection indicators within three years;

47.  Calls on the Commission to present its announced communication strategy as soon as possible and to implement it rigorously; believes that the Action Plan can only be successful if all stakeholders are adequately informed of the benefits which a high level of animal protection in Europe entails for animals and products;

48.  Considers that the potential of high welfare assurance schemes to improve animal protection is undermined by competition from the cheaper products of assurance schemes that ensure standards of welfare no higher than the legal minimum and that a legal framework is therefore needed which sets minimum standards for quality assurance;

49.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to broaden their efforts to inform consumers; considers that existing support instruments should be reviewed with the aim of facilitating the conducting of relevant marketing and information campaigns;

50.  Welcomes the setting up of an animal protection information forum, which should aim to promote the exchange of information on current developments in the area of animal protection, scientific knowledge and, in particular, examples of best practice;

51.  Agrees that a European strategy for the promotion of communication concerning animal welfare in the EU and third countries is necessary in order to explain to the public the various systems of animal production and the costs and benefits of stricter animal welfare standards; considers that this should be pursued independently, under the aegis of the proposed centre or laboratory;

52.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to make available adequate resources for training, further training and consultancy, for example using funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD);

53.  Considers that, at a time when wide-ranging liberalisation of conditions of access to agricultural markets is planned, the introduction of new higher standards in the EU without standardisation under WTO, could lead to a decline in the competitiveness of Community production;

54.  Regrets that some elements of food production are moving outside the EU in response to the animal welfare and protection standards that are currently in place, and therefore urges the Commission to assess the extent of this trend;

55.  Calls on the Commission to provide compensation for the financial losses suffered by Community producers who increase the cost of their production by implementing animal welfare measures;

56.  Points out that in many cases higher animal protection standards lead to additional costs; notes, however, that, within the context of free world trade, animal protection aspects have to date played only a subordinate role, which can lead to 'animal protection dumping' and disadvantages for EU producers in Europe and on third-country markets; suggests therefore an instrument of qualified market access which would prevent EC animal welfare standards being undermined by imposing levies on products that do not meet EU standards;

57.  Welcomes, therefore, all measures and initiatives by the Commission to further consensus at the international level on the importance of high animal protection standards; considers that it is essential and a priority to aim to further develop animal protection standards within the framework of the OIE and enhance their legal standing through the WTO; considers that the objective should be to ensure as high and uniform as possible a level of animal protection worldwide; calls on the Commission, in the meantime, not to increase the distortions of competition suffered by Community producers by introducing new binding, detailed and uniform standards;

58.  Calls on the Commission to promote explicit recognition of the high standard of EU's animal protection rules in upcoming reviews of the WTO's Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement and other WTO agreements, as appropriate;

59.  Regrets that animal protection is not part of the current round of negotiations at the WTO; insists that the Commission protect European standards, conscious of the additional costs that EU producers face as a result of complying with these standards;

60.  Urges the strengthening of animal protection within the framework of the WTO; calls on the Commission strongly to urge, within the framework of the Doha Round, that animal protection be included in the negotiation agenda as a non-trade concern and that support measures to promote animal protection within the framework of rural development policy and cross-compliance policy be recognised as qualifying, unreservedly, for inclusion in the 'green box';

61.  Calls on the Commission to strive for recognition of the non-trade concerns in the framework of the WTO or further consensus at the international level on animal protection standards before sharpening legislation on animal protection within the EU;

62.  Points out that WTO trade rules do not restrict the validation of production systems, as implied by the original wording of the Communication and that it is therefore possible and desirable to validate production systems that apply significantly higher welfare standards than the minimum requirements;

63.  Supports the Commission in its aim to incorporate animal protection into bilateral trade agreements (e.g. with Chile and Canada) or into veterinary agreements, complementing the multilateral strategy, and to develop discussion with third countries and their representatives on animal protection issues;

64.  Considers that all current and future bilateral agreements with third countries which address sanitary and phytosanitary measures should establish objectives both to ensure that animal products from third countries are produced at least to standards of animal welfare comparable with those of the EU, and that those standards are communicated to the European consumer;

65.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to set up activities to encourage importers of animal products into the EU to require at least the EU legal level of animal welfare standards from their suppliers;

66.  Welcomes the announcement of a dialogue with developing countries on the additional market opportunities which high animal protection standards offer them; calls on the Commission to support developing countries in meeting animal protection standards as part of existing and new 'aid for trade' programmes;

67.  Welcomes the efforts of the Commission to help developing countries contribute to international standard setting by means of trade-related assistance;

68.  Welcomes the work the Commission has done through trade-related technical assistance projects with developing countries, for example by helping their experts to attend meetings on international standard-setting, and by sending EU technical experts to developing countries; notes that third-country representatives can already participate in EU training courses organised for Member States" competent authorities on implementing EU animal welfare rules and believes that in order for developing countries to be able to take full advantage of trade opportunities, the Community should meet requests to provide analysis, training, research and financial support through both bilateral and multilateral development initiatives; further believes that improving animal protection will often benefit such countries directly – financially, in food production, and in environmental protection;

69.  Believes that the Community's decision to prohibit the import of hormone-treated beef has been fully justified by scientific studies and calls on Canada and the US to remove their unjustified, WTO-incompatible sanctions on European goods without further delay;

70.  Welcomes the proposed ban on imports, exports, trading and processing of dog and cat fur and calls on the Commission to propose a total import ban on seal products and 'cruelty products' from third countries, such as fur from animals skinned alive, fur from animal breeding farms with no veterinary controls and pharmaceutical products made from endangered species, and wherever low production standards are a threat to the environment and biodiversity;

71.  Calls on the Commission to submit proposals to make the temporary ban on EU imports of birds caught in the wild on ethical, health and welfare grounds permanent;

72.  Is concerned that the trade in exotic animals threatens both biodiversity and animal welfare; believes that biodiversity implications should be taken into account when devising animal welfare policy on the cross-border problems referred to in the Action Plan;

73.  Expresses concern about the suffering of fighting animals; calls upon the Community to bring an end to dog and cock fighting, through national or community legislation as appropriate, and by ensuring that those involved receive no state or national subsidies relating to their activities;

74.  Considers that the submission of a Commission report to the European Parliament and the Council on the influence of genetic parameters on the welfare of broiler breeders and broiler chickens by 2010 must be accompanied by appropriate legislative proposals;

75.  Considers that the submission of a report to the European Parliament and the Council on the protection of pigs kept for farming purposes, envisaged for 2009, must be accompanied by appropriate legislative proposals;

76.  Calls for Bulgaria and Romania already to be guided by the Community's animal protection objectives and to implement and enforce all existing EU animal protection legislation before January 2007 or, if transition periods have been agreed as part of their accession treaties, at least within that period;

77.  Considers that before the accession of a new Member State to the EU, the Commission should verify the appropriate implementation of the EU's animal protection legislation as well as national regulation in this context;

78.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) OJ L 358, 18.12.1986, p. 1
(2) Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, signed on 3 March 1973.
(3) Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 of 22 December 2004 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations (OJ L 3, 5.1.2005, p. 1.
(4) Council Directive 95/29/EC of 29 June 1995 amending Directive 91/628/EEC concerning the protection of animals during transport (OJ L 148, 30.6.1995, p. 52).
(5) Commission Regulation (EC) No 1071/2005 of 1 July 2005 laying down detailed rules for applying Council Regulation (EC) No 2826/2000 on information and promotion actions for agricultural products on the internal market (OJ L 179, 11.7.2005, p. 1).

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