Where the EU did manage to include provisions on animal welfare cooperation in its FTAs, there has been a lack of follow-up, and so the impact of these provisions have often been limited.
In recent years, the European Commission has put an increasing emphasis on the implementation of free trade agreements. It now produces yearly reports covering achievements under most FTAs and in June 2020 it appointed a new Chief Trade Enforcement Officer, who is solely tasked with improving implementation of FTAs.
It is crucial to hold the EU accountable for the results it delivers through cooperation mechanisms included in trade agreements, or the lack thereof. While we argue for the adoption of stronger measures, the Commission often portrays cooperation provisions as the most effective tool to promote animal welfare with partners. Yet the experience of existing FTAs reveal that once the provisions are adopted, there is a lack of political willingness and resources to generate concrete progress for animals.
It is crucial to underline the importance of ensuring that other Directorates General in the European Commission, which will be in charge of the dossier in the implementation phase, are sufficiently staffed and willing to follow up once the FTA is concluded. Unless there is implementation, provisions on cooperation are only window-dressing.