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Agriculture Ministers call for more animal welfare in Europe

Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands sign a declaration on improving animal welfare at European level

Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands called upon the European Commission to give a high profile to animal welfare issues in its priority setting.

In the Dutch town of Vught, Federal Minister of Agriculture Christian Schmidt, his Dutch counterpart Sharon Dijksma and the Danish Minister of Agriculture Dan Jørgensen signed a declaration to this effect today. "The goal that unites us is to take animal welfare forward in the EU. We will pool our resources and work even closer together in the future to improve animal welfare", Mr. Schmidt said at the signing ceremony of the Declaration. Minister Schmidt campaigned for the widest possible support and invited more Member States to join the Declaration.

Mr. Schmidt had already stated that animal welfare must not stop at national borders at the launch of the animal welfare initiative Minding animals - new ways to improve animal welfare: "There is an intensive exchange of livestock and animal products within the European Union. Many issues, such as the illegal trade in dog puppies, can be better solved at EU level than by purely national measures. My goal is to make high animal welfare standards the European trade mark. Animal welfare should also be an integral part of trade agreements and be taken into account by the WTO as a trade concern", said Schmidt.

With Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, three of the leading European countries in animal production have joined together. In the Declaration the countries agree to henceforth work closer together at different levels to jointly improve animal welfare, namely with regard to animal welfare research, the improvement of husbandry systems and the exchange of best practice examples. The new alliance holds the view that the current animal welfare legislation of the European Union applicable to the husbandry, transport and slaughter of animals must be enforced in a stricter and more harmonised manner. The Declaration states: "The European Union must continue to put animal welfare at the forefront and it should actively develop greater awareness of the welfare of animals also at international level."

In this Declaration, the countries welcome the measures the European Commission announced in its European Union Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2012-2015. At the same time they call upon the Commission to go ahead with the promised examination into whether the EU statutory framework for animal welfare can be simplified, while ensuring that the simplification of the existing EU legislative framework does not result in a deterioration in the EU's animal welfare record. They also demand to review existing standards with respect to new scientific evidence and adjust them accordingly. Mr Schmidt also explained: "This applies, for example, to ending non-curative interventions on animals or to limiting the transport of slaughter animals. We think that travelling times for slaughter animals should in principle be limited to eight hours."

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