The EU’s Council of Ministers has adopted a detailed policy position, called council conclusions, that says the Commission should “consider a new EU legislative framework to increase transparency and adequacy of information on animal welfare to consumers to facilitate their purchase choice”.
And while it says EU-approved voluntary labelling schemes could be an appropriate way to promote higher animal welfare standards, this would only happen if such schemes create consumer confidence, “are transparent and reliable, communicate the relevant welfare message effectively and go beyond minimum [welfare] standards” mandated by law.
Also, while there are EU laws regulating the transport of livestock by road, the council asked the Commission to examine developing rules for shipping. It also asked for a review of road transport rules to ensure they are properly enforced across the EU, drawing attention to issues such as “internal height, loading densities for different weight categories of pigs” and common assessments of transport services, including watering devices and temperature monitoring.
Meanwhile ministers called on the Commission to use free trade negotiations with non-EU countries to offer trade benefits as a bargaining chip, forcing EU trading partners to toughen their animal welfare laws. This would “limit distortions of competition and aim at ensuring at least equivalence between EU and third-country operators”, said the conclusions.
Ministers also called on Brussels officials to promote EU animal welfare standards in international organisations such as the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE).