On the April 6th, Eurogroup for Animals hosted in Brussels the first meeting of the Equine sub-group of the EU Animal Welfare Platform . The sub-group consists of seven Member States (FR, CZ, SE, DE, NL, IT & DK), two independent experts, three business and professional organisations (FVE, ISAE and CopaCogeca) together with Eurogroup for Animals, World Horse Welfare and Animals Angels. The equine sub-group, initiated by the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food, will initially focus on fostering responsible ownership and care. To this intent, during the first meeting, the members decided that the sub-group will be producing and disseminating two set of guidelines providing simple information for the keeping and care of equidae – one for horses and other one for donkey, asses and mules.
Europe’s equines endure a difficult life due to the different levels of legal protection across EU countries, lack of knowledge about their specific needs, as well as irresponsible breeding. Moreover, reliable figures on Member States equine populations are still lacking today, despite EU legislation on equine identification being in place since 2009. During the second meeting of the EU Animal Welfare Platform in November 2017, time for presentation and discussion was dedicated to equine welfare and specifically the issue of unwanted equidae. Following a call from Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany, the EU Commission encouraged the establishment of a Member State led ‘voluntary’ sub-group on equine welfare, alongside the ones on live animal transport and pig welfare sponsored by the EU Commission itself.
The cooperation started within the equine sub-group proves not just the commitment of several Member States and stakeholders to tackle the pervasive welfare problems affecting all horses, donkeys and mules, it also represents a fundamental first step to build consensus around a concrete tool for improving equine care knowledge among owners in the European Union. In light of the diverse equine welfare challenges that exist across the 28 Member States, the sub-group’s members consider that common European guidelines on the keeping and care of equines would be crucial in addressing areas where EU legislation on equines is still lacking. A key objective of the sub-group is also building on the recommendations of the ‘Removing the Blinkers’ report by World Horse Welfare and Eurogroup for Animals  and a subsequent resolution of the European Parliament . The equine sub-group will meet again on May 18th and present on the scope of its work and preliminary results during the third meeting of the EU Animal Welfare Platform in June. The group is aiming to submit for consultation both papers to the other Platform’s members and to finalize the guidelines by the end of 2018.
 The EU Platform on Animal Welfare, launched by the European Commission in 2017, is tasked to address the growing animal welfare concerns of millions of citizens across the EU. With the aim to exchange scientific knowledge, foster innovation and sharing good animal welfare practices, the Platform brings together 75 members, including Member States’ representatives, civil society, independent experts and international animal welfare advocacy organisations.
Giulia Tarsitano – Programme Officer, Companion Animals
Tel: +32 (0)2 740 08 90