WRITTEN QUESTION No. 1329/98 by Graham MATHER to the Commission. Effect of WTO deals on EU animal welfare provision
OJ C 402, 22.12.1998, p. 111 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)
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WRITTEN QUESTION E-1329/98
by Graham Mather (PPE) to the Commission
(29 April 1998)
Subject: Effect of WTO deals on EU animal welfare provision
Concerns have recently been raised by relevant interest groups about the effect that certain WTO deals may have on EU animal rights legislation. In particular, it has been suggested by Compassion in World Farming in the UK that measures agreed by the EU banning imports of furs from countries using leghold traps and prohibiting the marketing of cosmetics tested on animals have come unravelled in the face of WTO challenges.
1. Does the Commission see a conflict between WTO agreements and EU animal welfare provision?
2. How does the Commission intend either to reconcile this conflict or to ensure that it does not arise?
Answer given by Sir Leon Brittan on behalf of the Commission
(11 June 1998)
World trade organization (WTO) agreements do not prevent the introduction of measures which are considered to be necessary for the protection of animals on the territory of the Community. However, it is the Commission's view that it cannot unilaterally impose the Community's welfare-based production standards on third countries. Under WTO rules as currently interpreted there is a conflict between WTO agreements and Community animal welfare provisions if the Community's welfare-based production standards are made a condition for imports from third countries.
Such possible conflicts can be effectively avoided through the adoption of international welfare-based standards in the framework of bilateral or multilateral agreements. Furthermore, given the fact that animal welfare is becoming an increasingly relevant issue in terms of international trade, this issue may be raised in the WTO context in the future. The possibility of amending WTO rules to address welfare concerns will be addressed in the context of the determination of the Community negotiation objectives for the next stage of the WTO negotiations.