Animal welfare

Most of our animal welfare laws come from our national government, but we make decisions at European level when we recognise joint action is needed.

    • Endangered birds cross many borders when they migrate. Most European countries have laws to protect them, but if some other countries permit people to kill them for sport, those laws are pointless. Jointly agreeing EU-wide rules is the only way we can protect them.
    • Over 279 million live animals are transported across the EU every year. When these journeys cross borders, we need common rules to protect them. EU legislation lays down requirements for watering, resting and maximum lengths of journeys. Those rules could be improved, but they are a start, and have improved standards in many countries.
    • Thanks to EU agreements, some 360 million hens and 12 million sows have a better quality of life. A ban was introduced on conventional cages in 2012, so hens now have space for a nest, perches and litter. In January 2013, the use of individual stalls for pregnant sows was phased out and they are now allowed to socialise in groups, which suits their natural behaviour.
    • Our vanity shouldn’t require cruelty! Cosmetic products — and, crucially, the ingredients used in them — should not be tested on animals. In the EU, it’s illegal to market any cosmetics tested on animals.
    • European countries have adopted a common stance on whaling on the international stage, supporting the creation of whale sanctuaries and opposing commercial whaling. Whales are protected through various EU-wide agreements, including the Habitats Directive and the conservation of fisheries resources.
    • Better animal welfare standards is not anti-farming. On the contrary, it can lead to added value to trade and help support sustainable farming. Training is also crucial. So far, 237 participants from over 30 countries have attended workshops dedicated to improving the application of EU standards of animal welfare.
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