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  Animal Welfare Labelling and the creation of a European Network of Reference Centres for Animal Protection and Welfare slide

Animal welfare labelling: Commission report launches in-depth political debate

The European Commission has adopted a report in which it outlines a series of options for animal welfare labelling. The overall goal of policy in this area is to make it easier for consumers to identify and choose welfare-friendly products, and thereby give an economic incentive to producers to improve the welfare of animals. The report also presents options for the possible establishment of a European Network of Reference Centres for the protection and welfare of animals.

Please find attached:

The Summary of the impact assessment report BG CS DA DE EL ES ET FI FR GA HU IT LT LV MT NL PL PT RO SK SL SV pdf
The Impact Assessment report in English pdf
and the press release: Animal welfare labelling: Commission report launches in-depth political debatepdf.

In order to prepare the report, the European Commission launched a Feasibility study to asses the possible options. Please find here the final report of the study:


The European Commission wants to promote animal related products elaborated under high welfare standards. One of the main areas of action described in the Community Action Plan for Animal Welfare 2006-2010 is to involve the general public and enable consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions.

The European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee endorsed this approach and called upon the Commission to take the initiative in this regard. The Council adopted Council Conclusions pdf inviting the Commission to assess further the issue of animal welfare labelling in all its aspects, and to submit a report to the Council in order to allow an in-depth debate on the subject.

From several Community surveys (Eurobarometers 2005-2006), we know there is a demand from consumers for more information about the animal welfare situation of the animals from which our food comes. This will enable producers to benefit from market opportunities.

The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) in the UK made a report in 2006 which examines the case for the provision of animal welfare information to consumers to help improve the welfare of animals (FAWC report pdf). These discussions have highlighted that any animal welfare labelling needs to be based on science. Therefore the Action Plan proposes to link the labelling to the use of standardised animal welfare indicators, recognised both in the EU and internationally.

Such animal welfare indicators are currently being developed by the research project "Welfare Quality". This EU funded project focuses on the integration of animal welfare in the food quality chain, and addresses public concern by improved welfare and transparent quality. The project aims to accommodate societal concerns and market demands, to develop reliable on-farm monitoring systems, product information systems, and practical species-specific strategies to improve animal welfare including welfare indicators. Throughout this Integrated Project effort is focused on three main species and their products: cattle (beef and dairy), pigs, and poultry (broiler chickens and laying hens). The project started in May 2004 and will take five years to complete.

In March 2007 the German Council Presidency, the European Economic and Social Committee and the European Commission organised the conference "Animal Welfare – Improving by Labelling?". The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) presented at this conference an exploratory opinion on this issue. The Conference concluded that labelling could, under certain conditions contribute to improving animal welfare.

Furthermore, the Action Plan envisages the creation of an Animal Welfare Reference Centre, which could serve as a coordinating body for the different initiatives related to animal welfare labelling (standardisation/certification of welfare indicators, auditing schemes, databases related to existing certified labels). The Centre should also facilitate the preparation of relevant socio-economic studies and impact assessments.

The aim of this initiative is to enable the consumers to make informed choices when buying animal related products, which will in turn, give an economic incentive to producers to improve the welfare of animals.



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