Decerle report prioritizes farmers' economic interests over farm animal welfare
European Parliament backs regressive report, which lacks ambition for animal welfare and runs counter to citizens' wishes
On February 15, the European Parliament (EP) adopted the Farm Animal Welfare Implementation Report with 496 votes in favour, 140 against and 51 abstentions.
Eurogroup for Animals, together with its members Compassion in World Farming and Four Paws, strongly opposed the adoption of the final report asking MEPs to adopt the alternative ENVI opinion instead.
Despite the use of the term 'animal welfare' in its title, the adopted report focuses more on the economic interests of farmers rather than improving conditions for animals in EU farming systems.
When the report was announced, civil society strongly hoped that the European Parliament would give full attention to a fundamental issue, dear to the hearts of EU citizens and policy makers, as evidenced by the European Commission's strategy for farm to table and its commitment to revising animal welfare legislation, as well as Parliament's own position to phase out the use of cages.
The final resolution - the adopted form of the report - even goes so far as to contradict what has been adopted in previous parliamentary resolutions, namely:
- Foie gras, which involves force-feeding, is presented as meeting animal welfare criteria despite the fact that the EP has recognized the incompatibility of foie gras production and animal welfare in its recent resolution on the ICE “Ending the age of the cage”.
- The report suggests emphasizing more clarity rather than improving standards . This is not in line with the EP resolution on the farm to fork strategy, which believes it is important to set higher legal standards for animal welfare.
- The report erroneously claims that some measures supposed to improve animal welfare may in fact be counterproductive and undermine other aspects of sustainability , namely health and safety on the farm, as well as the fight against antimicrobial resistance and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is diametrically opposed to Parliament's resolution on the farm to fork strategy, which makes it clear that a high level of animal welfare is important for sustainable development and has the potential to enhance the economic and environmental sustainability of European farmers.
An implementation report is, unsurprisingly given its name, supposed to assess the implementation of current animal welfare rules on the farm. In this, the resolution adopted by the EP fails in two respects: it does not address the problems linked to the current rules and it does not focus on the welfare of the animals themselves. Instead, it is concerned with maintaining a broken system that encourages the worst types of agriculture for the environment, health, and most importantly, for animals .
“ MEPs have sent mixed messages to an ambitious and progressive European Commission. Earlier in the term, they wanted better welfare, new farming systems and change in line with the Commission's Green Deal. Yesterday they voted for something that is nothing more than a defense of the status quo. While we congratulate those MEPs who fought for the much more ambitious opinion of Parliament's Environment Committee, who defended animal welfare in line with the wishes of citizens, the European Parliament has, in its together backed off from the narrow interests of big farming , ” commented Reineke Hameleers, CEO of the Eurogroup for Animals.
Full Voting Results Open Letter Image Credit: Luis Tato/HIDDEN/We Animals Media
Eurogroup for Animals represents over eighty animal welfare organizations in almost all EU Member States, the UK, Switzerland, Serbia, Norway and Australia. Since its founding in 1980, the organization has been successful in encouraging the EU to adopt higher legal standards for animal protection. The Eurogroup for Animals reflects public opinion through its members and has both the scientific and technical expertise needed to provide authoritative advice on animal welfare issues. The Eurogroup for Animals is a founding member of the World Federation of Animals which unites the animal welfare movement globally.