Through the years, the European Union has developed a solid and science-based legislative model on animal welfare. To promote this approach outside the EU borders and achieve progress in this field, the cooperation with international partners on animal welfare plays a key role.
How the European Commission promotes animal welfare standards
The Commission has developed several international activities with its partners to raise animal welfare awareness and to promote the EU model and principles worldwide.
These international activities are divided in three different levels of action according to partnerships:
- Multilateral activities through the cooperation and support of two international organisations in the dissemination of EU Standards in non-EU countries, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).
- Bilateral activities with non-EU commercial partners. Since 2002, the European Commission has been striving to include animal welfare in trade agreements and cooperation with non-EU countries.
- Training and technical assistance to improve knowledge and support local workers.
In January 2018, the Commission adopted a report that reviews the main international activities on animal welfare and evaluates their outcomes.
Commission's Report on the impact of animal welfare international activities
This report highlights that the Commission, together with EU Member States, has played a prominent and decisive role in raising global awareness on animal welfare. Moreover, these actions have led both on achieving significant results and in putting animal welfare in the dialogue with many non-EU countries.
- Commission's report - Annex
- Study report
- Executive summary of the study
- Volume II, Annexes of the study
The report was based on an external study mandated by the Commission.
Before that, the first report on animal welfare in the international context adopted by the Commission was the 2002 report on farmed animals in third countries and the implications for the EU".
These activities promote animal welfare and the EU model in multilateral networks, and in particular at both cooperating with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and supporting the activities of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
The EU is a major contributor to the OIE standards setting process which led to improve safe trade of animals and animal products, but also animal health and welfare globally. Since the beginning of the collaboration on animal welfare between the Commission and the OIE, 15 OIE standards on animal welfare were adopted.
Over the years, the Commission has played a key role in facilitating the implementation of the OIE standards in non-EU countries, by supporting dedicated training initiatives, and by promoting the development and implementation of OIE Regional Strategy on Animal Welfare. A successful example of such regional cooperation is the OIE Regional Platform on Animal Welfare for Europe, launched in 2013.
Archive of main EU supported and joint EU-OIE events on animal welfare:
4th OIE Global Conference on Animal Welfare, Guadalajara, Mexico, December 2016.
3rd OIE Global Conference on Animal Welfare, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, November 2012;
2nd OIE Global Conference on Animal Welfare, Cairo, Egypt, October 2008;
First OIE Inter-American Meeting on Animal Welfare, Panama City, Panama, 2008;
International Conference "Animal Welfare: New Horizons For The 21st Century, An International And Regional Perspective", Montevideo, Uruguay, 2007;
Workshop "Animal Welfare in Europe: achievements and future prospects"- EU, CoE and OIE joint declaration, 2006;
For more information, please visit the history of OIE’s global animal welfare initiative.
Over the years, the Commission and FAO cooperated in organising capacity building events to promote animal welfare as a component of sustainable production in countries with developing economies.
The Commission contributed to milestone events, such as:
The 1st FAO Global Multi-Stakeholders Forum on Animal Welfare, 2012
The FAO Gateway to Farm Animal Welfare – dedicated internet portal (Press release, 2009)
The First FAO Expert meeting on capacity building to implement good animal welfare practices in 2008 - Report
The aims of bilateral cooperation between the EU and non-EU countries are to raise awareness and establish a common understanding on animal welfare, share technical knowledge, as well as provide partner countries with support in developing and implementing legislation based on the EU or OIE model and principles.
In 2002, animal welfare was included for the first time ever in a bilateral agreement with a non-EU country, Chile. Since then, the Commission has thrived to include it in most international trade agreements. Working groups between the EU and its partners are often established to define annual work plans with corresponding actions.
Concrete results have emerged from this bilateral cooperation with non-EU countries. Here are some successful examples of EU Commission's bilateral cooperation:
Argentina: in 2017, the Administrative Arrangement on Technical Cooperation on Animal Welfare, signed by both partners, contributed to the successful organisation of a Regional Better Training for Safer Food Workshop on animal welfare in Buenos Aires in March 2018.
Brazil: the 2013 Administrative Memorandum of Understanding on technical cooperation on Animal Welfare gave way to successful projects, such as the group on housing of sows, which were implemented under the EU-Brazil Sectorial Dialogue Facility.
New Zealand: the Animal Welfare Cooperation Forum, established between both partners in 2007, contributed to continuous exchanges on scientific and policy issues.
Chile: the EU-Chile Association Agreement, signed in 2002, lead to the EU-Chile Animal Welfare Working Group that contributed to improve animal welfare in the country as well as to develop a full body of national legislation on animal welfare.
Training activities and technical assistance
The Better Training for Safer Food (BTSF) program and the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange (TAIEX) are the main EU instruments for training activities in the field of animal welfare.
Better Training for Safer Food (BTSF)
BTSF World has been delivering training activities to non-EU countries mainly through regional workshops (Canada, China, Chile, South Korea, Thailand, Brazil, Costa Rica, Sri Lanka) and Sustained Training Missions (Thailand, Malawi, Lesotho, Chile, Brazil). Between 2004 and 2015, around 1.000 participants from non-EU countries took part in BTSF activities worldwide.
The latest BTSF Regional Workshop on animal welfare was organised in Buenos Aires in March 2018. The event focused on the welfare of animals during transport and at the time of slaughter, and represented an opportunity for exchanging experiences and establishing a network of experts in the Region.
Technical Assistance and Information Exchange (TAIEX)
TAIEX supports administrations for the transposition and enforcement of EU legislation within their national context. Between 2004 and 2015, TAIEX funded over 60 animal welfare-related projects.
A successful example of this kind of cooperation is the Multi-beneficiary workshop on animal welfare at the time of slaughter, which took place in Lebanon in 2015.