Search icon

European Union Animal Welfare strategy published

News Section Icon Published 19/01/2012

The European Commission issued its second Strategy for the welfare and protection of animals 2012 - 2015 today... here's our reaction to what it says.

Compassion in World Farming is pleased to see the Second EU Strategy for the welfare and protection of animals, as it demonstrates the EU's continuing commitment to animal welfare as a core EU value.

While several of the Strategy's proposals are helpful, at the same time it fails to indicate how the EU plans to tackle a number of key issues. In particular it fails to set out a vision for a Europe in which the cruelties of factory farming have been brought to an end.

What we are pleased to see

Improved information for consumers
However, we're disappointed that there is no reference to the need to introduce mandatory labelling of meat and dairy products according to the system in which the animals are reared e.g. free range.

Competence requirements for personnel handling animals
Some legislation includes competence requirements. The Strategy's proposal to extend the fields in which competence is required for staff handling animals is helpful.

Improved compliance with legislation
For example ensuring all EU states comply with the new battery cage ban.

Plans to consider labelling of meat from unstunned animals
We believe that such meat must be labelled so that consumers can avoid it if they oppose slaughter without stunning.

Encourage international concern and support for welfare
Particularly welcome is the intention to examine how animal welfare can be better integrated in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy.

Investigate the welfare of farmed fish
This is essential before the EU's plans to expand aquaculture are developed.

Our concerns

The Strategy's emphasis on 'simplification' of legislation
We fear broadly worded, imprecise legislation, lacking in legal certainty will leave farmers and enforcement officials unclear as to what does and what does not comply with the legislation.

Shifting legislation's focus from welfare inputs to welfare outcomes
Measuring welfare outcomes is a good idea, but is not a substitute for legislating for the quality of welfare inputs to an animal's environment, such as housing and provision of straw. If these are poor, good welfare outcomes, such as good mental and physical health, cannot be achieved.

No indication of how the EU will fulfil its international obligations to implement species-specific Recommendations
The EU is obliged to give effect to the species-specific Recommendations that have been adopted under the European Convention and to the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) Recommendations. Currently there is no specific EU legislation for dairy cows, beef cattle, rabbits or farmed fish, and shockingly the Strategy does not plan to introduce such legislation.

Common Agricultural Policy
The Strategy fails to recognise that both the current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the proposed CAP reform do far too little to help EU agriculture move from industrial livestock production to more sustainable, humane forms of animal husbandry.

The Strategy should have committed to a strengthening of the proposed CAP reform package to help deliver much improved welfare standards in the EU.

Learn more about the CAP through our Filthy Business campaign

The lack of use of reports funded by taxpayers
In recent years The European Food Safety Authority has produced Scientific Opinions and Reports on five different aspects of pig welfare, four areas of dairy welfare as well as on the welfare of many farmed fish species.

We are disappointed that the Strategy does not plan to utilise these Opinions and Reports as a basis for future legislation or other policy initiatives. It is a waste of the tax-payer's money, used to commission EFSA to produce these valuable reports, not to make good use of them.

The Strategy also fails to address certain key areas that are widely recognised to give rise to serious welfare problems.

These include:

  • the welfare of dairy cows;
  • the need to place a maximum limit of 8 hours on transport to slaughter or for further fattening;
  • the need to establish much more effective protection for farm animals that are exported to third countries;
  • cloning and genetic engineering;
  • the need to examine the farming practices that can be used to achieve good animal health without recourse to regular use of antibiotics;
  • the need to develop better understanding of economic win-win situations where improved welfare also produces economic benefits for farmers.

Read more:

Take Action:


You are using an outdated browser which we do not support. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.

If you have any further questions regarding this, or any other matter, please get in touch with us at We aim to respond to all queries within two working days. However, due to the high volume of correspondence that we receive, it may occasionally take a little longer. Please do bear with us if this is the case. Alternatively, if your query is urgent, you can contact our Supporter Engagement Team on +44 (0)1483 521 953 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).