In a non-binding resolution passed by 34 votes in favour, 3 against, 4 abstentions, agriculture MEPs have called for a single set of EU-wide animal welfare rules, to crack down on abuse and offenders.
They also stress that the well-being of animals is closely linked to public health and the spread of disease.
"The failure to enforce animal welfare legislation leads to legal uncertainty, distortions of competition among producers in Europe and the deception of consumers. That's why we need a science-based European animal welfare framework law", said Marit Paulsen (ALDE, SE).
Better controls and tough sanctions
MEPs want member states to employ more inspectors and the EU Food and Veterinary Office to have more powers. To avoid long delays in applying the rules, as happened with the laying hens directive, the committee calls for an early intervention system to allow the Commission to check at intervals whether member states can meet the deadline.
MEPs want new rules on labelling to prevent abuses and inform consumers about farming methods and animal welfare. For example, the derogation for un-stunned slaughtering has been exploited in some member states, leading to complaints in petitions to Parliament by European citizens. To close this loophole, MEPs ask the Commission to consider creating an un-stunned slaughter label. They also call for an EU-wide voluntary labelling scheme for meat and dairy products, to help consumers make more informed choices.
The committee also stressed that equivalent welfare standards should apply to all imported animals and products to ensure a level-playing field for EU farmers and comparable quality standards for EU consumers.
The new animal-welfare legislation should also cover all kept animals, including dairy cows, but also cats, dogs and other domestic pets, which are currently not protected by any EU law.
The full House votes on the resolution in July. The Commission is expected to table an EU-wide animal welfare framework law in 2013.
Source: European Parliament News