With the support and close cooperation of the EU member states, the European Commission (EC) has been promoting animal welfare for almost 50 years, gradually improving the lives of farm animals. A number of legislative measures have been taken over this period in order to improve and maintain the welfare conditions of farm animals in the EU, including in the agricultural sector. The EU Farm to Fork Strategy includes revising the EU animal welfare legislation to align it with the latest scientific evidence, broaden its scope, make it easier to enforce and ultimately ensure a higher level of animal welfare. The EU will also make a proposal by the end of 2023 to phase out and finally prohibit the use of cages for laying hens, sows, calves, rabbits, pullets, broiler breeders, layer breeders, quail, ducks and geese (See the “End the cage age” communication (COM (2021) 4747).
One of the key priorities of the EC is to promote an enhanced dialogue on animal welfare issues that are relevant at the EU level among competent authorities, businesses, civil society and scientists. To achieve this goal, the EC set up the expert group “Platform on Animal Welfare" in 2017 to develop, share and discuss coordinated actions on animal welfare issues. In May 2021, the EC decided to renew the Animal Welfare Platform's mandate until June 2025 and launched a new call for expert group members in order to ensure the continuity of the activities.
Within this platform, the EC proposed the creation of six sub-groups. The six sub-groups cover the following subjects: pigs; poultry; calves/dairy cows; transport; animal welfare labelling, and slaughter/killing. The sub-groups explore the options for a legislative proposal revising the current EU animal welfare legislation. Some of the conclusions of the animal welfare sub-groups of the EU Animal Welfare Platform can be found on the EU Platform on Animal Welfare webpage.