1. BECAUSE EUROPEANS CARE
The European Treaty recognises animals as sentient beings, able to feel pleasure and pain, to enjoy life or suffer. European citizens care for animals and would like to see their welfare needs taken into account through legislation, policies and the commitment of adequate resources. Sectorial interests should not prevail over citizens’ demands.
2. BECAUSE IMPROVEMENTS OF ANIMAL WELFARE ARE NECESSARY
Specific legislation on animal welfare has been produced at the EU level since 1974, and landmark laws were introduced since the early 1990s to phase out cruel farming practices such as veal crates, sow stalls and conventional battery cages for egg production. Nevertheless, for some species no specific legislation exists and they are left unprotected.
3. BECAUSE IT IS ALREADY BEING DONE AT NATIONAL LEVEL
In some Member States animal welfare is no longer managed by the Ministry of Agriculture. Since 2014, in the three regional governments of Belgium ministers have been given a title that includes animal welfare as one of their main competences, thus facilitating the adoption of more progressive legislation and policies, and their enforcement.
4. BECAUSE SECTORIAL INTERESTS SHOULD NOT UNDERMINE PROGRESS
The excessive influence of economic interests has often delayed progress in the proper enforcement of existing legislation or its updating when necessary. Live animal transports are a clear example of this problem. The Commissioner responsible for animal welfare should have more influence and powers on this topic in the EU institutions.
5. BECAUSE IT WOULD HELP ANIMALS CONCRETELY
There is much to be done in terms of animal welfare, and society is asking for it to be a higher priority on the EU agenda. Including animal welfare in the job title of the relevant EU Commissioner is possible, sensible, and would contribute to ensure that proper action is taken on this topic any time animals are going to be affected by EU legislation.