What has happened to the European Commission's commitment to animal welfare?
The European Commission promised to deliver a full revision to the animal welfare legislation by October 2023, which would have affected the lives of billions of sentient beings across the EU.
The latest scientific evidence, along with various case studies and investigations on livestock farming, show the current legislation is not fit for purpose and does not go far enough to protect the welfare of Europe’s kept animals.
However, the European Commission has so far failed to deliver on its promise. Rather than publishing the whole revision, they only published the Transport Regulation in December 2023, leaving countless animals open to mistreatment and neglect for potentially years to come.
This video, produced in March 2023, was accompanied by an expose report. Download it in English here.
The European Commission must not go back on its word! As the European elections take place next year, policymakers must honour their commitment to the animals, and deliver the revision as swiftly and effectively as possible. As the results from this year’s animal welfare Eurobarometer prove, this is what Europe’s citizens want, too.
What has the No Animal Left Behind project achieved so far?
In October 2023, we organised a stunt in the centre of Brussels to call on Ursula von der Leyen to deliver the animal welfare proposals.
Several policymakers and key figures in the animal welfare movement attended, and over 50,000 concerned citizens sent emails to the President of the European Commission.
In 2021, around 200,000 supporters across the EU demanded better animal welfare legislation, setting positive change in motion by urging policymakers to pay attention.
In the same year, we also published a report demonstrating how current EU laws are failing animals, as well as a white paper outlining what we want to see in the new legislation.
Our Key Demands
The animal welfare legislation must do more than protect every farm animal from neglect and cruelty, as well as minimise their suffering. They should actively promote a positive state of health and wellbeing, too. Here are some of the welfare concerns we want the Commission to prioritise while revising their laws.
1 Good Health
Every animal should be healthy, fit and whole.
No animal should be deliberately mutilated: its tail or beak chopped short; its body so overstretched it cannot stand straight. But billions live in preventable pain every day, breathless, injured, diseased, in misery. Animals deserve to to feel strong and full of life, to want to run and swim and peck and play. It’s not enough to exist; they should thrive.
2 A Happy Life
Every animal should have the space to thrive.
No animal should be physically restricted, without natural light or fresh air, too hot or too cold, or living in filth. They deserve to move freely and safely and to rest in comfort. When animals have control over how and where they spend their time – building nests or sunbathing, exploring or snoozing, choosing their companion for the day, having shelter and shade from the elements – their wellbeing increases. Feeling safe from harm, and interested in life, and able to swim or run like the wind should be the least we offer them.
3 No Animal Live Transport
End live transport
Being herded into noisy cramped trucks and driven for hours, days, even weeks is an unnatural and highly stressful experience for farmed animals. Every welfare expert is opposed to it. Animals are taken from everything that is familiar to them, and forced to endure long periods without rest, food and water, and many arrive at their destination exhausted and injured. Our first demand is that the EU bans all long distance journeys for farmed animals, and introduces bespoke rules for pigs, cattle, sheep, rabbits, chickens etc to limit their suffering on all other unavoidable journeys.
4 Natural Behaviours
Every animal should be able to express themselves.
No animal should be prevented from showing natural behaviours, kept confined, without choice. Boredom and stress spill into frustration and aggression, and when there’s no escape, every day is miserable. Pigs and geese should be able to do what pigs and geese love to do… And given the chance to groom and bond with favourite pals, or to find a quiet safe spot, or to explore new toys and tools, individuals can express their personality too.
5 Good Nutrition
Every animal should enjoy nutritious food and clean water
No animal should be kept hungry, malnourished or thirsty. They deserve to enjoy nutritious, wholesome food and easy access to fresh clean water. Most would naturally spend many hours rooting, grazing, browsing, foraging and feeding. Encouraging them to express these behaviours, through thoughtful husbandry, is vital to their wellbeing. A scoop of concentrated, industrial feed delivered once or twice a day brings little but boredom and frustration and empty hours.
6 Positive mental experiences
Every animal deserves to enjoy life.
No animal is a machine, without feelings or curiosity or needs. But billions are treated as ‘units of production’ and squeezed and stacked together like batteries being charged. They should be cared for as the sentient, smart, pleasure-seeking creatures they truly are, and given every chance to enjoy their lives. They deserve living spaces that add pleasure and interest and choice to the everyday, that feed curious minds, and encourage connections and wellbeing.
7 Expanding the circle of compassion to include all species
Every animal deserves protection and care.
The more we discover about animals and their complex, intriguing lives, the more shocked we should be at how we have treated them in the past. And the more determined we should be to ensure they live a good life. Our laws need to do more than protect the welfare of all farmed animals. They should promote health, wellbeing and compassion. Because animals deserve no less. Let’s leave none behind.
Who else is with us?
“Each year, millions of animals are transported alive within the EU and to third countries. Journeys can last several days or even weeks and countless investigations have repeatedly uncovered serious breaches of the Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005. This cannot go on.”
“Our animal welfare laws fail billions of farmed animals living in preventable pain every day. It is high time for the European Commission to commit to an ambitious review of the legislation.”
“No animal deserves to be confined and physically restricted. 1.4 million citizens across Europe have called on the EU to put an end on the use of cages in animal farming. It is time for the European Commission to take action.”
“Citizens’ calls to act on animal welfare have become louder and louder in this crucial time, the European Commission cannot ignore these calls any longer and needs to commit to an ambitious full-scale review of the animal welfare laws.”
“Countless investigations have shown over and over the serious failures and poor enforcement of the current legislation. The European Commission needs to make sure that the revised animal welfare laws do more than protect every animal from neglect and cruelty: they should also actively promote a positive state of health and wellbeing.”
“2021 offers a very important window of opportunity for animal welfare in the EU. The European Commission cannot miss this chance to offer better protection to the billions farmed animals suffering across Europe every day.”
"We live in a world where sensitive beings are cramped in small cages, without possibility to move, without access to natural light or fresh air and their offspring is ripped apart from them as soon as the children are born. We wouldn't do it to another human but we continue to treat non-human animals in that way. The horror of factory farming cannot last. We need a law which protects animal rights. Animals deserve no less."