European Parliament sees stronger position for animal welfare in future CAP


European Parliament sees stronger position for animal welfare in future CAP

30 May 2018
Eurogroup for Animals
The European Parliament today expressed itself for the first time on the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and emphasised the strong position it sees for animal welfare in the future of food and farming.

The report contains suggestions for potentially crucial improvements for animals. Despite these welcome suggestions, it fails to fundamentally question the intensive nature of Europe’s farming, heavily incentivised through the current CAP, and that is so bad both for the environment and animal welfare.

Echoing broad citizens support’ for animal welfare, the EP today called for the recognition of animal welfare as a “public good” [1]. This could potentially mean public funding is made available under the CAP’s direct subsidies mechanism (pillar 1) to deliver animal welfare across Europe.

The Parliament also innovates by firmly stressing the link between poor animal welfare and the high rate of antimicrobial usage on farms [2] and subsequently calling for effective actions to address antimicrobial resistance in the future CAP. This pleads for a shift away from intensive farming systems towards farming practices that embrace higher welfare – a plea further emphasized by the Parliament’s expressed expectation for subsidies to promote systems which go beyond current legislative minima on animal welfare under the new CAP.

It is also reassuring to see the Parliament reaffirms that CAP financing should also serve as a tool for the Commission to foster the proper implementation of EU legislation on animal welfare both inside the EU and with international trading partners [3]. The report specifically calls on the EU to request strict compliance with all its standards before accepting imported products (reciprocity in production conditions). It also asks the Commission to demand from the World Trade Organisation more consideration for processes and production methods (which includes farm welfare practices) when defining if products are alike. This is important as being able to differentiate two animal products based on the welfare conditions in which they were produced is fundamental to implement trade restrictions based on poor welfare standards in foreign countries.

It’s very good to see that the Parliament is concerned with the current situation and it is now calling on the Commission to better protect farm animal welfare.

Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals

“So far the CAP has supported the intensification of the EU’s agriculture and has only dedicated a miniscule proportion to animal welfare (1.54%). As we all know, this resulted in immense animal suffering and public money being spent on a very bad system for animals. It remains terribly shocking for EU citizens to find out agricultural public spending is not conditional to legislative compliance” said Reineke Hameleers, Director of Eurogroup for Animals. “It’s very good to see that the Parliament is concerned with the current situation and it is now calling on the Commission to better protect farm animal welfare. In our view all agricultural public spending should be conditional to legislative enforcement and favour higher animal welfare systems over low welfare production, as expected by the vast majority of citizens who’s taxes form the basis for these subsidies».

Despite these suggestions for improvements, it is regrettable to see earlier proposals from parliamentarians on  compulsory and minimum animal welfare spendings have not been adopted. This also happened with the proposal for cross-compliance with all farm animal welfare legislation, a principle which sounds so obvious in our developed constitutional states.

It’s incredible to believe that the CAP is financing farming practices that are so poorly designed for animals and ill-compliant with legislation. The Parliament missed this opportunity to influence the CAP legislative proposal, expected later this week, from the onset with a powerful and concrete demand for a truly sustainable farming system.

Eurogroup for Animals will continue to mobilize its partners and the public to ensure the new CAP is not a disguised perpetuation of the status quo in disregard of EU citizens’ expectations for more welfare, the Paris Climate agreements and the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.

Sophie De Jonckheere, Communications and Development Manager,
Francesca Porta, Farm Animals Program officer +32 (0)2 740 08 28,  


[1] The concept of public goods (see box) entered the CAP in 2007 in the environmental context through greening under Pillar I.“Public goods” have two characteristics. They are (i) non-excludable and (ii) non-rival. This means that (i) people cannot be excluded from benefiting from the provision of the good; and, (ii) benefiting from the good does not reduce the amount available for others to benefit. Public goods are often under-provided by the market because these characteristics mean there is no incentive for commercial operators to provide them. As a result, governments often address this “market failure” by paying for public goods.

[2] AMR is responsible for approximately 25,000 deaths per year in the EU with a total annual cost of EUR 1.5 billion. According to the Scientific Opinion delivered by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the need to use antimicrobials can be reduced dramatically through the application of good farm management and husbandry practices. The connection between AMR and animal welfare has been identified in several documents over the past few years. Most notably: The Commission Action Plan, notes that there is a link between the animals’ welfare status and the use of antimicrobials, defining standards of animal welfare as AMR-related standards. Also, the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) recognises that disease prevention should rely on improving living conditions, optimizing management systems and good bio-security practices rather than through the systematic usage of antimicrobials.

[3] In this context a particular attention is given to the Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005 and the European Court of Justice ruling C-424/13 on the obligation to apply that EU Regulation also in non-EU territories.