Brussels, 13 October 2006
The European Parliament has adopted an own initiative report calling for stricter animal welfare rules in the EU, urging for more research on welfare, and reiterating the need to phase out animal experiments where possible.
The report is a response to the Commission's Action Plan on the Protection of Animal Welfare, which the Parliament welcomed as a first attempt to translate 'the Protocol on protection and welfare of animals annexed to the Amsterdam Treaty into an integrated approach to developing animal protection in Europe'.
While embracing the thrust of the Commission's Action Plan, the report, by German MEP Elisabeth Jeggle, nonetheless draws attention to a number of specific points, including the availability of resources and the continuation of support for existing research projects.
'The success of the Action Plan can only be ensured by making available adequate financial resources for research in all areas,' states the report.. 'It is important to continue existing research projects and technology platforms where necessary and to strengthen research in areas of priority importance for implementing the Action Plan,' it adds.
'The transition from the Sixth to the Seventh Research Framework Programme [FP7] should involve as little red tape as possible, in order not to jeopardise research work under way which is vital to the implementation of this Action Programme,' agreed MEPs, referring in particular to the PredTox project, which is working towards improving the predictive ability of alternative testing methods and providing data and databases.
The report calls on both the Commission and Member States to ensure that adequate resources are made available for research into the protection and welfare of all animals under FP7 so that the objectives of the Action Plan can really be achieved.
The Parliament also welcomed research efforts announced by the Commission in the field of animal protection, but adds 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.'
Other areas where MEPs would like to see more research focus include electronic systems for animal identification, technologies to monitor animal welfare during transportation certification and labelling systems, and alternatives to animal testing.
On animal testing MEPs welcomed efforts by the Commission to develop a directive on animals used for experimental purposes and urged the Commission to submit legislative proposals before the end of 2006. As part of the proposed revision of legislation, the directive should be widened to cover basic research and research using animals for teaching purposes, agreed MEPs.
Eurogroup for Animals has welcomed the Parliament's vote, calling it 'historic' as, the group says, it is the first time that animal protection has been referred to as 'an important Community goal and a permanent obligation to the EU'. 'We are delighted that the rapporteur has managed to bring all EU political groups firmly behind the objective of improving animal protection in the EU,' said Sonja Van Tichelen, Director of Eurogroup. 'The European Parliament has recognised that this issue is of great concern to millions of EU citizens and to many consumers who demand ethically acceptable products.'
To access the Parliament's report and the Commission Action Plan, please visit: http:///www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/file. jsp?id=5319032