Federation of Veterinarians of Europe
Veterinary EU Legislation
Animal Welfare

EU Legislation

General Framework & strategy:

The Treaty of Rome, signed in 1957 by France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, established the European Economic Community. The Treaty of Rome did not include a reference to animal welfare. The Treaty of Amsterdam (1 May 1999) included a protocol on animal welfare. If the Lisbon treaty is ratified, policies regarding agriculture (legal base Article 37) will fall under co-decision, meaning the voice of the European Parliament will be much stronger in all matters relating to agriculture.

In Jan 2006, the Commission adopted the Community Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2006-2010, defining the strategy of DG Sanco until 2010.

For more information: DG Sanco website

Animal Welfare on Farm

In 1998, Council Directive 98/58/EC on the protection of animals kept for farming purposes gave general rules for the protection of animals of all species kept for the production of food, wool, skin or fur or for other farming purposes, including fish, reptiles or amphibians.

They reflect the so-called 'Five Freedoms' as adopted by the Farm Animal Welfare Council:

* Freedom from hunger and thirst
* Freedom from discomfort
* Freedom from pain, injury and disease
* Freedom to express normal behaviour
* Freedom from fear and distress

Community legislation concerning the welfare conditions of farm animals lays down minimum standards. National governments may adopt more stringent rules provided they are compatible with the provisions of the Treaty.

Specific rules continue to apply to :

For more information: DG Sanco website

FVE position paper on laying hens, broilers and castration of pigs

Animal Welfare during Transport

In 2007, a Regulation on the protection of animals during transport (EU Regulation 1/2005) came into force which tries to safeguard animal welfare during transport.

Since Member States could not find agreement in 2005 on a revision of existing maximum travelling times and animal stocking densities on vehicles, the Commission agreed that these two issues will be the subject of a further separate proposal to be presented not later than 2011 and to be prepared in the light of the outcomes of enforcement of the new rules by the Member States.

For more information: DG Sanco website

FVE position paper on AW during transport of 2008 and 2004

Animal Welfare at Slaughter/Killing

Since in 1995 animal welfare legislation around slaughter is covered by Council Directive 93/119/EEC covering a wider range of animals and slaughter circumstances.

Following the revision of the legislation Council Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing was published in 2009.

For more information: DG Sanco website

FVE position papers on AW during slaughter 2006 and 2008
and on slaughter without prior stunning

Welfare of animals used for scientific purposes

In 1986 the Council adopted Directive 86/609/EEC on the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes. The Directive improves the controls on the use of laboratory animals, sets minimum standards for housing and care as well as for the training of personnel handling animals and supervising the experiments. It also aims at reducing the numbers of animals used for experiments by requiring that animal experiments should not be performed when an alternative method exists, and by encouraging the development and validation of alternative methods to replace animal methods.

In 2008 the Commission presented a proposal to revise Directive 86/609/EEC.

On 8th September 2010 the European Parliament adopted a text agreed with the Council to update Directive 86/609/EEC on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. The aim of the new Directive 2010/63/EU is to strengthen legislation, and to improve the welfare of experimental animals.

For more information: DG Environment website

Council of Europe Legislation

The Council of Europe is an intergovernmental body, set up in 1949, whose main aim is to promote human rights and democracy. In 2009 it has 47 member countries.

There are five Conventions that have been agreed on issues relating to animal welfare, and one on conservation and protection of wildlife and habitats. A Convention is only legally binding for a country when that country has signed and ratified.

FVE participated as an observer in the work related to animal welfare Conventions: we provide technical and scientific advise in Standing Committees, Working Parties and Drafting Groups. After being inactivated for some time, the Standing Committee on the protection of farm animals restarted its work in 2008.

For all conventions, resolutions, recommendations and ratifications: click here

OIE Legislation

OIE started in 2002 its activities in Animal Welfare, as the international reference organisation for animal health, to elaborate recommendations and guidelines covering animal welfare practices, reaffirming that animal health is a key component of animal welfare.

A permanent Animal Welfare Working Group was formed in May 2002 and the first recommendations of the Working Group were adopted one year later. The OIE Guiding Principles on animal welfare were included in the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code (Terrestrial Code).
In 2005, OIE adopted five animal welfare standards to be included in the OIE Terrestrial Code. These cover:
- the transport of animals by land
- the transport of animals by sea
- the transport of animals by air
- the slaughter of animals for human consumption
- the killing of animals for disease control purposes

More about the animal welfare actitvities of OIE and the recommendations adopted you can find on the OIE website.

For more info on international animal welfare initatives: DG Sanco website

Animal Welfare Research Projects

Links are given below to some recently completed or ongoing Community-funded research projects having an important animal welfare component and in which FVE is involved.

DIALREL - encouraging dialogue on Religious slaughter (FVE is member of the advisory Board) 2006-2009

WELFARE QUALITY - developing animal welfare monitoring schemes based on animal-based parameters (FVE is member of the advisory committee) 2004-2009

CLONING IN PUBLIC - Farm animal cloning and the public (FVE was consulted as stakeholder)

PIGCAS - research on alternatives to surgical pig castration (FVE is member of the extended circle) 2006-2009

For more projects: DG sanco website and AGRINET