Democratic failure: European Commission backtracks on its commitments for animals in work programme


Democratic failure: European Commission backtracks on its commitments for animals in work programme

16 October 2023
Press Release
The European Commission has failed to deliver on its commitment to better protect billions of animals, despite clear calls by citizens demanding better legislation. A leaked 2024 work programme, set to be presented in the European Parliament plenary tomorrow, shows that the Commission is backtracking on its promise to EU citizens and only committing to publish one of the four promised regulation proposals by the end of the current term, failing to uphold its democratic responsibility to answer to European Citizens’ Initiatives.

In 2020, the European Commission (EC) committed to revise the animal welfare legislation as part of the Farm to Fork Strategy, but with the current political term coming to a close, according to the leaked work programme, the EC has now failed to include all the proposals, committing only to delivering one of the four promised regulations (Transport Regulation), set to be published in December. 

This leaves behind the Kept Animals, Slaughter and Labelling Regulations. Particularly worrying is the absence of a clear timeline for the Kept Animals Regulation (KAR) through which the EC was expected to deliver on its commitment to transition to cage-free systems, an ask by 1.4 million citizens in the End the Cage Age ECI.

With these regulations failing to be mentioned in the work programme, it is now highly likely that they would be handed over to the next Commission, leaving millions of animals unprotected for years to come, and the future of the proposals hanging in the balance. It also ignores the clear democratic call reflected in the European Citizens’ Initiatives, in which citizens have asked the EU to do more for animals.

Another important file missing in the document is the Legislative Framework for Sustainable Food Systems (FSFS) which was also expected by the end of 2023. Postponing this Farm-to-Fork flagship will hinder much needed food system transformation and fail aligning agricultural and food policies with the EU’s sustainability and climate change objectives.

In addition to its Farm to Fork Strategy, the much anticipated revision of the REACH regulation under the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability is also notably absent from the programme. The cornerstone regulation has long been discussed as a centrepiece of the EU Green Deal towards the goal of achieving a toxic free environment and a key element to help further promote a chemical strategy which advances in more concrete terms the phase out of animal testing for regulatory purposes. 

We are extremely dismayed that the EC did not have the political will to commit to its promise, turning its back on citizens and science. Decades in the making, we had numerous dialogues, impact assessments and scientific opinions. Petitions, ECIs and the 2016 special Eurobarometer clearly show that European Citizens want more for the animals, and yet, big business continues to have the leading hand. We will not give up but keep pushing for the EC to commit on a clear timeline for the other Proposals. The time is now. We simply will not accept any more delays.
Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals

Last week, animal protection organisations, MEPs and advocates gathered in front of the Berlaymont and publicly called on President von der Leyen to publish the promised full proposals for a revised animal welfare legislation. MEPs called the EC’s failure to deliver the proposals a ‘“democratic failure”.

Renowned ethologist and conservationist, UN Messenger of Peace and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, Dr Jane Goodall, PhD also joined the call and asked EC President Ursula von der Leyen to meet with her to discuss the issue.