Today’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is not delivering toward its objective of “promoting animal welfare”. This was one of the outcomes of the European Commission’s recent public consultation on the future of Europe’s agricultural subsidies. Opposite to citizen’s views, subsidies have led to the intensification of animal production and to the use of increasingly productive breeds in systems where animals are confined with reduced or no access to pasture.
During the conference “‘The CAP: Have your say” on 7th July in Brussels, the European Commission announced the result of the public consultation. With over 300,000 responses, including those from Eurogroup for Animals and several member organisations, there is clearly a huge interest in this topic from EU citizens.
CAP has been successful in sustaining European agriculture, but has, along with global trends and competition within the agricultural market, encouraged the intensification of animal production, at the expensive of animal welfare.
Although animal welfare is one of the objectives of the CAP, interestingly only eight percent of EU citizens involved in the farming sector who answered the consultation, think that farmers are ensuring the welfare and health of farm animals. This result clearly shows that despite the fact that in the current legislative framework there are four measures that can be used to enhance the welfare of animals, the sector still does not consider animal welfare as a value and an objective to invest on.
However, respondents did clearly indicate that animal welfare and organic farming should be two objective of the future CAP and recognised that one of the main problems to be addressed is the lack of attention for sustainability. Currently CAP monetary benefits still largely go to large intensive farming practices (EPSC, 2016) that are depleting the environment and exploiting animals without any regard to their physical, behavioral and mental needs.
The next reform of the CAP is an opportunity to have a paradigm shift from a legislative framework that is supporting the upscaling and intensification of farms to a new one that makes the difference for the well-being of animals and creates sustainability in the heart of Europe.
Reineke Hameleers, Director of Eurogroup for Animals comments “We call for a new CAP that instead of subsiding makes investments towards animal welfare and environmental objectives. With this recent public consultation, animal welfare was a recurring theme throughout almost all open questions of the consultation and the European Commission should take stock of public opinion to re-think the current CAP system that significantly improves animal welfare.”
 The results analysed by Ecorys identified and isolated the answers submitted as a part of EU campaigns, such as ‘Leaving Land’ which manage to mobilise more than 63,000 citizens. Regrettably, the exclusion of these answers in the final submissions means the voice of thousands of EU citizens are unheard on how the future of the CAP will look.
- European Commission website with the results of the consultation
- Eurogroup for Animals position paper on the future of the CAP http://www.eurogroupforanimals.org/wp-content/uploads/Position-Paper_CAP-2020.pdf
- Four Paws press release: http://www.vier-pfoten.eu/news-press/eu-related-press-releases/2017/the-future-cap-should-include-animal-welfare-in-the-decision-making-processes-of-the-eu-commission./
- Further information on CAP public consultation http://www.eurogroupforanimals.org/common-agricultural-policy-post-2020
Francesca Porta, Programme Officer Farm Animals , Eurogroup for Animals_email: f.porta@
Lucy Mathieson, Communication Officer_email: l.mathieson@