Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted July 4 for an animal welfare crackdown from the EU, calling for tougher enforcement of existing animal welfare rules, an end to loopholes, and stiffer punishments for offenders.
Significantly the lawmakers say “equivalent welfare standards” should apply to “all imported animals and products.” This would extend the reach of EU welfare rules worldwide, and lead to lengthy trade actions.
In a voice vote the MEPs said one of the reason for this crackdown is to “protect human health, by preventing the spread of animal-related diseases and antimicrobial resistance.”
They asked the EU Commission to create one single animal welfare law for EU. This would improve compliance and ensure fair treatment for all farmers.
The lawmakers said this new welfare rule should be extended to apply to all farmers’ animals including dairy cows, strays and domestic pets.
"The most important point in this proposal is the details of the broad, science-based general animal welfare framework law, reflecting the link between animal and public health,” said Swedish MEP Marit Paulsen who advanced the proposal.
“We must define jointly what we mean by good animal husbandry and determine clearly who is responsible for the animals. It is a matter of fairness, both to animals and producers across Europe," she continued.
Paulsen’s proposal is one response to the EU’s Commission's ‘Animal Welfare Strategy for 2012-2015’ delivered to parliament in January.
Her proposal would stiffen action against EU member states on enforcement. Despite 12 years of advance notice, the EU has had major difficulties fairly enforcing its caged layer directive across the bloc.
Finally lawmakers said, “Parliament stresses that equivalent welfare standards should apply to all imported animals and products to ensure a level-playing field for EU farmers and comparable quality standards for EU consumers.”