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Everyone is responsible


On the 29th of February and 1st of March 2011, a new EU strategy was presented in Brussels regarding the Protection and Welfare of Animals, the guiding principles of which will be the motor for the changes to be introduced in the subject in the coming years.

The presidency, held by Denmark during this two-year period, has spurred the celebration of an International Congress, about which we have already mentioned some news [1]. The congress represents an event of extreme interest for specialists and the general public. The thrust of the new European strategy is based on the principle that “everyone is responsible”.

Individuals, no matter their position or occupation in society, represent the last link in the chain of responsibilities to effectuate the improvement in the treatment of animals. As such, it is especially interesting to note that the Congress concretely referenced how to increase and reinforce the power of consumers, how to provide them with verified information on the breeding and living conditions of the animals, especially in the meat production. From this came the title of the event: “Empowering consumers and creating market opportunities for animal welfare.”

The significance of this strategy resides in two central proposals. The strategy is the product of experience accumulated across the years in the EU which has been weaving a complex system of legislation, based on prioritizing animal welfare from scientific bases. The proposals are: on the one hand, the desire that scientific advances and technologies regarding animal welfare become reconciled with global market realities within the next four years, and, on the other hand, that the corresponding legislation brings about greater transparency in markets. Among other novelties, this would allow a greater flexibility and adaptation of the framework legislation to the legislative realities of the Member States.

The new strategy tries to activate two complementary actions summarized below. In the first place, the general principles of the European framework legislation regarding animal welfare will be revised. While perfectly consolidated, simplification is still necessary, so that the welfare of animals is reinforced and so that the norms for producers and consumers come together in order to strengthen and improve the application and control of production processes. Secondly, the Commission recognizes that reforms exist which need to be reinforced or better utilized, so that they can be truly effective. This entails performing an exercise in transparency so that the information of producers and of all actors implicated in public health, the food chain and consumption, arrives in a simple and direct form to consumers, so that they can make responsible choices.

International cooperation of all the actors involved is indispensible so that this new advance can take place. In the end, the animals are those that are important for us and it is for them that we must make all efforts needed from every angle so that the European legislation does not end up as only a monument to erudition in long-winded detail. Rather we must succeed in advancing individual consciences and corporate responsibility among businesses. “Everyone is responsible” must be seen and adopted for the welfare of animals. We are not mere spectators.

Teresa Giménez-Candela
Department Chair in Roman Law
Animal Law Profesor
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

[1] International Conference regarding the new “EU Animal Welfare Strategy, 2012-2015”, Brussels, February 29 and March 1 ; WARTENBERG, M., The New Animal Welfare Strategy of the EU 2012-2015 – A Paradigm Shift in European Animal Welfare Policy

keys law, legal , case law , animal

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