New report presents key opportunities for the EU and China to partner up in driving animal welfare and prevent future pandemics


New report presents key opportunities for the EU and China to partner up in driving animal welfare and prevent future pandemics

18 November 2020
Press Release
EU and Chinese experts meet to discuss sustainability, food systems and resilience. Animal welfare could be the key to prevent future pandemics, as explained in a new report.

For immediate release: Brussels 18/11/2020

On November 18th Eurogroup for Animals organised an event entitled What could the EU and China do for animal welfare?, hosted by MEP and member of the EP delegation for relations with the People’s Republic of China Niels Fuglsang (S&D, DK). The first of its kind gathering was the opportunity for European and Chinese experts to discuss sustainability, a key topic for both partners, and its link with animal welfare.

COVID-19 demonstrated the human and economic costs of a zoonose pandemic and, while it emerged from wildlife, it has also reminded the world of the role played by intensive farming in spreading zoonoses. How we produce and consume food has an impact not only on animals but also on public health, the environment, people and climate. Working together on improving animal welfare can play a key role in finding solutions to many of the current global challenges we are facing: climate change, antimicrobial resistance, as well as the spread of pandemics. With all the developments in the EU, such as the Farm to Fork Strategy, which should see the improvement of our animal welfare standards, there has never been a better time for us to discuss this topic with China.

Stated Janusz Wojciechowski, EU Commissioner for Agriculture, in its opening speech.

As analysed in the new Eurogroup for Animals Report What could the European Union and China achieve for animals? improving animal welfare standards can contribute to achieving several Sustainable Development Goals which are at the heart of EU and China’s future growth

  • Building more resilience in the food production sector, SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • Improving human health by helping to reduce the risk of zoonoses and lessen the use of antibiotics in animal productions, SDG 3 - Healthy Lives
  • Contribute to fighting the climate crisis, SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • Generate concrete economic benefits, SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth

More positive effects could be achieved with moving towards more sustainable production and consumption systems, specifically reducing the production and consumption of meat and dairy products

This could benefit public health, lowering cases of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases (SDG 3 - Healthy Lives), but also climate and environment, since the dairy and meat sector represents around 14.5% of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions (SDG 13 - Climate Action) and it is a massive source of water pollution (SDG 6 - Water Quality, SDG 15 - Live on land; SDG 14 - Live under water). 

Animal welfare can play a key role in finding solutions to many of the current global challenges we are facing such as zoonoses and climate change. At the heart of many of these challenges lies an unsustainable food production system that lacks resilience. Improving animal welfare, as well as moving towards more sustainable production and consumption patterns that rely less on meat and dairy products, can help prevent these situations in the future. 

Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals

In the future, [China] will proactively promote animal welfare to meet the needs of sustainable socio-economic development. Firstly, [it] will carry out in-depth science-based animal welfare research with Chinese characteristics, to promote the safe, high-yielding, resource-saving and environment-friendly development of animal production in China. Secondly, [China] will participate proactively in the development of international standards on animal welfare, to coordinate and cooperate for a just and fair international trade in animal and animal products. 

Dr. Xiao Xiao, OIE animal welfare China liaison, Associate Researcher of China Animal Health and Epidemiology Center of Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs

The innovative agricultural and technological practices developed in China and in the EU could serve as a basis to a fruitful cooperation. Eurogroup for Animals recommendations for this cooperation are the following:

  • The European Union could improve its animal welfare standards, relying on the most recent animal welfare science. It could also develop standards for species which are currently left unprotected. China could also build up on the work led by authoritative organisations such as ICCAW and CAS to establish mandatory animal welfare standards.
  • The EU and China could explicitly refer to animal welfare in the coming EU-China 2025 Cooperation Agenda, notably in the section related to cooperation around public health.
  • Animal Welfare could be explicitly mentioned in the EU-China agricultural dialogue, as a dimension of sustainable farming. 
  • The EU and China could establish a joint expert working group on future food policies including sustainable and higher welfare livestock production as well as animal welfare and humane and sustainable protein innovation. 
  • In the future EU-China investment agreement, the Parties could require EU businesses to respect EU-equivalent standards when investing in animal agriculture in China. 
  • The EU and China could aim at establishing a Memorandum of Understanding between DG SANTE and its counterparts in China, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and the National Health and Family Planning Commission, to develop a more structured cooperation on animal welfare, possibly in the context of the fight against antimicrobial resistance.


Download the report 

Press contact
Agnese Marcon, Communications Officer, Eurogroup for Animals
+32 (0) 456 078 038

Eurogroup for Animals represents 70 animal advocacy organisations in 26 EU Member States, Switzerland, Serbia, Norway, Australia and the USA. Since its inception in 1980, the organisation has succeeded in encouraging the EU to adopt higher legal standards for animal protection. Eurogroup for Animals reflects public opinion through its membership organisations’ affiliations across the Union, and has both the scientific and technical expertise to provide authoritative advice on issues relating to animal welfare.