CAP takes one small step for animal welfare, when a giant leap is required

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CAP takes one small step for animal welfare, when a giant leap is required

5 June 2018
News
Last Friday’s legislative proposal for the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) released by the European Commission for the first time establishes Animal Welfare as a clear objective under the policy’s ‘Pillar I’ (direct subsidies).

This step forward for animals is however uncertain since Member States are offered more flexibility in defining subsidy priorities, with little clarity on the mechanisms to measure the outcomes of their programmes. Without being obliged, it is unlikely that Member States will use their CAP spending to invest towards a truly sustainable and higher animal welfare agricultural system.

Despite improvements compared to the current CAP, in this new legislative proposal the Commission fails to effectively promote animal welfare. Despite new mechanism to monitor compliance [1], it is disappointing to see that only three legal acts related to animal welfare will have to be respected. Additionally the Commission does not set aside a budget that can only be used for animal welfare. While we are pleased to see animal welfare as one of several options that Member states could pursue, we feel that such objectives should be mandatory rather than optional. The Commission’s commitment to sustain small and medium farms is certainly honorable to keep a diverse farming landscape [2], but redistribution of subsidies should start from an evaluation of a farm’s contribution towards animal and environment friendly production, instead of looking only at a farm’s size.

Even if the proposal contains some positive suggestions to improve the welfare of farm animals [3], many are still insufficient to address the major societal problems deriving from current intensive farming systems. “The proposal misses the opportunity to acknowledge the nexus between animal welfare and other major societal challenges such as the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This was strongly emphasised by the European Parliament last week [4] as well as by scientific bodies, but it remains totally ignored in this draft.” said Reineke Hameleers, Director at Eurogroup for Animals. “The proposal makes one or two small steps in the right direction, but fails to make the strides that are truly necessary to stop intensive farming and ensure that the 8.6 billion land animals, raised every year for food in the EU, are better protected.” Eurogroup for Animals will now work with Member states and the Members of the European Parliament to improve current proposal with the aim to enhance the existing provisions and to include new language to ensure that animal welfare is truly prioritise, as EU citizens wish it to be [5].

Contacts:
Sophie De Jonckheere, Communications and Development Manager, s.dejonckheere@eurogroupforanimals.org
Francesca Porta, Farm Animals Program officer +32 (0)2 740 08 28 f.porta@eurogroupforanimals.org

Notes:
[1] Conditionality is the new mechanism replacing the cross-compliance. Following this principle direct payments are given only to farmers complying with the statutory management requirements, including basic animal welfare standards.
[2] Art 15 of COM (2018) 392 final sets a capping system as well as digressive payments. These two interventions aim to save money which should be redistributed to smaller and medium farms.
[3] Animal Welfare set as a specific objective; Member states obligation to involve relevant body and civil society representatives in the preparation of the CAP strategic plan; Possible shift of EU subsidies from Pillar I to Pillar II (up to 15 %); Capping and digressive payment system; Animal welfare included as objective under “other sector” intervention.
[4] Read our analysis on the EP ‘s vision for the future of food and farming in Europe.
[5] 2016 special eurobarometer on animal welfare, accessible here.

The proposal makes one or two small steps in the right direction, but fails to make the strides that are truly necessary to stop intensive farming and ensure that the 8.6 billion land animals are better protected.
Reineke Hameleers, Director at Eurogroup for Animals
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