EU Reference Centres for Animal Welfare

EU Reference Centres for Animal Welfare

Reference Centres aim at improving the enforcement of the legislation on animal welfare, which is one of the Commission's priorities. They provide technical support and coordinated assistance to EU countries in carrying out official controls in the field of animal welfare. They also contribute to the dissemination of good practices on animal welfare in the EU. In particular, by providing scientific and technical expertise, carrying out studies and developing methods for improving and assessing the welfare level of animals.

To ensure knowledge transfer and innovative strategies, the centres are also in charge of disseminating research findings and conducting training courses for the staff of EU countries' competent authorities and experts from non-EU countries.

Articles 95 and 96 of the Official Controls Regulation establish the process of designation, the responsibilities and tasks of the EU reference centres for animal welfare.

Welfare of pigs

In March 2018, the Commission designated a first Reference Centre focusing on the welfare of pigs (Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/329). This centre aims at improving the enforcement of the EU legislation on pigs, including their transport and killing operation.

The centre EURCAW-Pigs is constituted of a consortium formed by the Wageningen Livestock Research (the Netherlands), the Friedrich Loeffler Institute (Germany) and the Department of Animal Science at Aarhus University (Denmark).

Its work programme establishes the specific activities of the centre, which started operating from 1 October 2018.

Welfare of poultry and other small farmed animals

In October 2019, the Commission designated a second Reference Centre dedicated to the welfare of poultry and other small farmed animals (Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1685). This centre aim at improving the enforcement of the EU legislation applicable to those animals, such as laying hens, chickens for meat production and other small farmed animals, including their transport and killing operation.

The centre is constituted of a consortium formed by the Agence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire de l’Alimentation, de l’Environnement et du Travail (France), and also composed of the Institut de Recerca I Tecnologia Agroalimentàries (Spain), Aarhus Universitet – Institut for Husdyrvidenskab (Denmark) and Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell'Emilia Romagna (Italy).

Its work programme establishes the specific activities of the centre, which started operating from 1 February 2020.