New opportunities to better protect and improve animal welfare in EU trade policy


New opportunities to better protect and improve animal welfare in EU trade policy

19 October 2017
Eurogroup for Animals
During a productive event yesterday in the European Parliament on animal welfare and the future of ethical trade, European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström supported the crucial need to better protect animals in EU trade policy.

90 percent of European consumers want imported products to respect animal welfare standards similar to those applicable in the EU, which is not guaranteed at the moment.

Eurogroup for Animals, a co-organiser of the event which was hosted by the European Parliament Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals, used the occasion to bring together high-level decision-makers and stakeholders in order to present new model provisions aimed at better embedding and enforcing animal welfare in future EU FTAs [1]. The event saw the participation of high-level stakeholders like Karoline Graswander-Hainz MEP (S&D, AT), Klaus Buchner MEP (Greens/EFA, DE), Stefan Eck MEP (GUE, DE), and representatives of various EU Member States, such as France, Sweden, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the UK.

The key concepts on which those provisions rest are the following: very strong cooperation mechanisms to genuinely improve the situation on the ground; the protection of the right to regulate to avoid any chilling effect on new legislation; and conditional liberalisation based on equivalence of standards. The provisions also include wording on trade and sustainable development, calling for the EU to recognise the strong connection between animal welfare and sustainable development.

European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström welcomed the model provisions and described them as “a very interesting proposal to [better address animal welfare in EU trade policy]”. Malmström also reacted positively to the idea of conditional liberalisation based on equivalence of standards, the key principle contained in the model provisions. She also announced that the European Commission was making “good progress towards an [trade] agreement [with Mexico] that would recognise that animals are sentient beings and that would call for improvement of implementation of OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) standards.”

To support further the need to protect animals in EU trade policy, Karoline Graswander-Hainz MEP (S&D, Austria) underlined how crucial Eurogroup for Animals’ efforts were, reminding that “it is high time that animal welfare is given proper attention in EU trade policy”.

Reineke Hameleers, Director of Eurogroup for Animals says: ‘‘The EU is a global leader in the field of animal welfare, yet so far trade liberalisation has had a negative impact on animal welfare. Opening our market leads to increasing imports of cheap products with lower animal welfare standards and is causing a chilling effect on new legislation. Eurogroup for Animals’ model provisions can tackle these issues whilst at the same time improve animal welfare across the world.’’

Eurogroup for Animals calls on the European Commission to investigate the possibilities to apply the model provisions in the ongoing negotiations, notably with Mercosur, and upcoming ones, especially with Australia and New Zealand.

Stephanie Ghislain, Trade & Animal Welfare Project Leader |+32 (0)2 740 08 96 |Email:

[1] Model animal welfare provisions for EU trade agreements