The RSPCA has criticised the European Commission’s new four-year Animal Welfare Strategy for ignoring a number of species and falling “far short” of properly delivering “long overdue” laws and progress.

The RSPCA has criticised the European Commission’s new four-year Animal Welfare Strategy for ignoring a number of species and falling “far short” of properly delivering “long overdue” laws and progress. 
 
Flag of EuropeThe EU strategy for the protection and welfare of animals 2012-2015 is intended to replace animal welfare legislation that was developed in response to contingencies and political demand over the past 30 years – which, although often detailed and sector specific, was sporadic in its coverage.

However, in an official statement, David Bowles, the RSPCA‘s director of communications, said: “While there are some good things about this strategy, many species of animals are ignored and it falls far short of properly delivering the laws and progress we think are already long overdue
 
“For instance, no reference is made as to how the commission will overcome the huge challenges to enforce EU wide bans on intensive systems such as the barren battery cage or the upcoming ban on sow stalls. There is also no mention of any new legislation to improve the welfare of dairy cows; to encourage funding of alternatives to the use of animals in research; or to improve the welfare of dogs traded in Europe after quarantine rules were relaxed.
 
“If the EU really wants to make a difference to animal welfare in the EU in the next five years it needs a strategy that deals with all animals, and ensures laws are effective and not just pieces of paper. It needs a strategy which recognises the links between good animal welfare, good animal health and improving the environment.
 
This strategy just does not go far enough. We have written to agriculture minister Jim Paice to express our dismay and hope he will take our message to the EC.”

John Dalli 2011 (cropped) Launching the strategy, John Dalli, EU commissioner for health and consumer policy, said: “The strategy adopted today does not start from scratch. We already have at our disposal a certain number of legislative texts, but we need to obtain much better enforcement of current EU rules. Indeed, insufficient enforcement by the member states is still a serious obstacle to even the most beneficial and rewarding innovation in this field. We want to work on significantly improving enforcement as a first priority.”

Mr Dalli said that stronger cooperation with the member states was necessary to face the forthcoming challenges like the ban of sow stalls.

He explained: “This ban is due to apply from 1st January 2013 and first indications show that some member states are still trailing behind. In the coming months I shall be doing everything in my power to promote full compliance before the ban comes into force. Afterwards there can be no tolerance of non-compliance.”

He concluded: “This is a time when the commission is analysing the past and shaping the future for the animal welfare policy in the European Union […] The strategy will now be debated by both the European Parliament and by the Council of Ministers.”

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