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Food Safety

Revision of the animal welfare legislation

The Farm to Fork Strategy adopted by the Commission on 20 May 2020 announced that the Commission will revise the animal welfare legislation to align it with the latest scientific evidence. In addition, the revision will broaden its scope, make its enforcement easier and ultimately ensure a higher level of animal welfare.

The Commission's preparatory work aims to revise the following pieces of legislation: the Directive on the protection of animals kept for farming purposes, four Directives laying down minimum standards for the protection of laying hens, broilers, pigs and calves; and the Regulations on the protection of animals during transport and at the time of killing. In addition, the Commission's preparatory work aims to prepare a proposal of new legislation on animal welfare labelling.

In view of this revision, the Commission is working on an Impact Assessment, whose objective was to assess the economic, social and environmental impact of the envisaged changes to the EU animal welfare legislation.

Since it was the most advanced, on 7 December 2023, the Commission adopted the proposal of revision of the Regulation on the protection of animals during transport. In addition, it adopted a proposal for a new Regulation on the welfare of dogs and cats and their traceability.

The proposed measures on transport will improve the wellbeing of the 1.6 billion animals transported across borders in the EU and from the EU each year. The new rules on the welfare of dogs and cats and their traceability will establish, for the first time ever, uniform EU standards for the breeding, housing, handling, and reproduction of dogs and cats in breeding establishments, pet shops and shelters transport. It will also reinforce existing provisions on the traceability of dogs and cats supplied in the EU rules to combat illegal trafficking. The two legislative proposals will now be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council for agreement.

Concerning the other planned legislative proposals (to revise current EU rules on the welfare of animals at farm level, and the protection of animals at the time of killing and establish new EU rules on animal welfare labelling), the work is still ongoing.

As regards the Commission's reply to the European Citizens' Initiative "End the Cage Age", the Commission is now carefully assessing important aspects to ensure that the transition to cage-free farming is sustainable for the agricultural sector and for our food systems, including food security. The preliminary results of the ongoing impact assessment show that the transition to cage-free systems demands the adaptation of several farming parameters, such as enriching the environment of the animals, and providing them with more space, to secure improved welfare conditions for the animals. Further consultations are needed such as concerning the costs, the appropriate length of the transitional period and the relevant measures at import. To ensure a proper balance between animal welfare and socio-economic impacts, the phasing out of cages has to come with support other animal welfare measures and support to farmers. Preparatory work will therefore continue, including in the context of the strategic dialogue on the future of agriculture in the EU.

Related links

4 OCTOBER 2022
Executive Summary - Staff Working Document (2022)329
5 OCTOBER 2022
Staff Working Document (2022)328
9 JANUARY 2023
Inception Impact Assessments - Revision of the EU legislation on animal welfare