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The Regulation in 6 questions and answers

1. What is new in this regulation?

EU legislation to protect animals at the time of killing already existed (Directive 93/119/EC) but was outdated in many respects. The new regulation contains several important changes:

2. Does the regulation affect all slaughtered animals in the EU?

No, but the large majority of them are covered.

The regulation concerns the killing of animals in slaughterhouses as well as those kept for farming purposes. This includes the killing of fur animals, of male day-old chicks (of laying hens breeds) or other killing taking place in farms. In particular it concerns the killing for disease control purposes (as occurred, for example, in the UK for the control of Foot and Mouth Disease).

Animals killed due to, or following, scientific experiments are covered by a specific Directive.

Animals killed under other circumstances (hunting, bullfighting, stray dogs or cats in shelters, animals in the wild, etc.) are not part of the scope of this regulation. Those areas are covered by national legislation and Union competences are either limited (hunting) or excluded.

3. How many animals are concerned?

(based on data collected before adoption in 2009)

Every year nearly 360 million pigs, sheep, goats and cattle as well as several billion poultry are killed in EU slaughterhouses.

The European fur industry adds another 25 million animals to the figure.

Hatcheries kill around 330 millions day-old-chicks.

The control of contagious diseases may also require the killing of thousands to millions of animals.

4. Does this regulation apply for third countries? How?

Yes, just as before 2013.

The regulation requires slaughterhouses in third countries exporting meat to the EU to comply with similar standards to those in the regulation. The standard of the World Organisation for Animal Health is taken into account when assessing equivalency between the standards implemented in third countries and the ones of the Community.

5. Does the regulation generate costs for companies? For Member States?

The Commission has performed an extensive impact assessment in order to evaluate the extent to which the measures envisaged in the initial proposal will affect companies and the Member States. This impact assessment is publicly available (see background of the regulation).

This impact assessment is based on a specific socio-economic study carried out by an external consultant. In addition, this initial Commission proposal has taken into consideration a large consultation of all stakeholders and has been designed to minimize the possible costs.

For example, the requirement to appoint an Animal Welfare Officer is not obligatory for small slaughterhouses as such a measure would not have been proportionate to the problem (proper coordination on animal welfare is not actually an issue in a small establishment). Other measures have been granted a transitional period for implementation to allow operators or Member States to adapt progressively. This is the case for the standards applicable to the design and fixed equipment of slaughterhouses and for the implementation of the certificate of competence applicable to staff in slaughterhouses.

However it should be underlined that a number of measures were already applied by some companies (on a voluntary basis) or by some Member States (as national legislation).

6. Does the regulation ban some stunning methods?

The regulation does not ban any major method of stunning presently in use. However, it limits the possibility to use certain methods.

The new regulation does not ban the use of the waterbath stunner for poultry despite its welfare disadvantages.

The use of carbon dioxide will be still permitted in certain cases despite the scientists’ opinion on its aversiveness for animals. However the use of carbon dioxide over 40% is not permitted for stunning poultry in slaughterhouses.

The reason for maintaining the possibility to use those methods of stunning is the lack of practical alternatives under certain conditions.

In the case of the waterbath for poultry, alternatives exist (use of gas) but are presently not developed for the small or medium size slaughterhouses, which represent a very important number of establishments in Europe.

The regulation foresees that the Commission will present a report on the possible alternative for stunning poultry at the latest four years after the entry into force of the regulation.

Similarly the use of carbon dioxide can not be rejected at present as there is no commercially viable alternative for certain species like pig or fur animals. In addition, it is a still an important technique for the mass killing of poultry.