A new report published by the European Court of Auditors highlights the failings of EU Member States to properly implement EU animal welfare legislation and guidelines issued by the European Commission.

While the ECA report acknowledges Member State successes in achieving compliance with regard to the implementation of group housing for sows and the eradication of barren battery cages for laying hens, it also identifies important shortcomings in Member State compliance with farm animal welfare rules, particularly with regard to routine tail-docking in pigs, long-distance animal transport and stunning at slaughter, and questions the slow pace of implementation.

“HSI/Europe warmly welcomes the European Court of Auditors’ initiative to place the implementation of farm animal welfare legislation by Member States under close scrutiny. This is an important wake-up call. The European Commission’s own audits have revealed a shocking and near total lack of commercial pig industry compliance with the ban on routine tail-docking. The ECA report provides a salutary reminder that EU Member States must not drag their heels on animal welfare and – at a minimum – must follow the letter of the law,” said Ruud Tombrock, executive director for Humane Society International/Europe.

“In the EU, we see ourselves as a guiding light on animal welfare, and encourage our trading partners elsewhere around the globe to follow our example. Yet failing to effectively implement and enforce our own animal welfare legislation potentially weakens our position in trade negotiations with other parties. Why should they take animal welfare seriously, if the EU does not seem to do so?” Tombrock added.

On the occasion of its presentation, Janusz Wojciechowski, the European Court of Auditor Member responsible for the report, stated: “I am convinced that in farming the European Union has a chance to win on quality, and not on quantity. Policymakers should decide if intensive farming really should be our future… Animal welfare should in our opinion be an integral part of that quality.”

The European Court of Auditors’ report provides concrete recommendations and a clear timeline for closing the gap between the EU’s past animal welfare goals and their practical implementation.  The European Commission has already responded to the publication of the ECA report by saying that it will evaluate its animal welfare strategy as a result of the findings.

According to a press release HSI would like to see the Commission go one step further and deliver an ambitious new EU animal welfare strategy to set down clear and concrete lines of action for farm animal welfare for the 2019-2022 period.