Exchange of views on animal welfare: Agriculture and Fisheries Council, 19 June

June 21, 2006

Brussels, 20 June 2006

39th Council Meeting - Agriculture and Fisheries. Luxembourg, 19 June 2006
Provisional version

The Council held an exchange of views on the Communication on Animal Welfare (5734/06+ADD1). The Council also took note of the Presidency conclusions which summarise the main concerns emerging from a Conference held on 30 March 2006 in Brussels on Animal Welfare.

During this Conference, representatives of the Member States, of the European Institutions, international parties and a wide range of stakeholders representing the whole of the food chain, discussed the Communication, which mainly covers the welfare of animals kept for food production. The debate was broadcast to the public.

The Presidency conclusions insist in particular on setting up a European network of scientific institutes and laboratories responsible for questions relating to animal welfare, stress the need for an impact assessment and that the need to legislate shall be based on the results of sound scientific studies which demonstrate necessity and feasibility. Objective and measurable indicators on animal welfare are also considered as a high priority. It is also envisaged for the Commission to investigate possible options for a labelling scheme on animal welfare at EU level. Finally the conclusions support mutual recognition of animal welfare worldwide on the basis of multilateral standards.

The Communication outlines the Commission's intentions regarding future animal welfare initiatives.

On 20 February the Council held a first exchange of views on the Communication on the basis of a questionnaire (see 6083/06). During this exchange of views, a majority of delegations insisted on the need to check the socio-economic impact on the producers and the consumers prior to any modification of the existing minimum requirements; Several Member States agreed on the need for a sound-scientific basis for updating the existing minimum requirements; Several delegations were in favour of an information campaign in order to better inform farmers, retailers and consumers on Community animal welfare existing rules and on their application.

At the Council on 23rd January, Commissioner Kyprianou presented the Community Action Plan on the protection and welfare of animals for the period 2006-2010, and indicated that this Action Plan would:
- try to upgrade animal welfare on the basis of scientific standards;
- aim at better informing citizens;
- support initiatives on the issue of animal welfare in international fora, such as the WTO;
- try to set indicators and benchmarks to determine the level of animal welfare;
- encourage research in this sector.

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UN Universal declaration on animal welfare

The Council took note of a written information (10472/06) provided by the Czech delegation concerning the draft of an Universal Declaration on animal welfare. The aim of the Declaration is to recognize on global scale animals as sensitive beings, which feel pain and stress. Animal welfare should thus be recognized as a part of social development of world nations. The Declaration is a means for improving animals' living conditions in all countries in general. The draft of the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare is to be discussed in order to achieve intergovernmental agreement on the Declaration text for eventual submission to Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) held in New York in July 2007.

EU Council
News release 10302/06 (Presse 178)

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