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Animal welfare

Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU stipulates that, as sentient beings, full regard should be paid to animals' welfare requirements. The EU aims to ensure that animals do not endure avoidable pain or suffering and to oblige animal owners or keepers to respect minimum welfare requirements.

In 2012, a 4-year EU plan to improve animal welfare was adopted. This seeks to simplify laws on animal welfare to:

  • increase the transparency of animal welfare claims so that conditions of competition are the same for all producers;
  • focus on the results for the animals;
  • improve the education of those handling animals.

It also aims to ensure better compliance with existing laws and improve information to consumers, retailers and the food industry.

While animal welfare is mainly dealt with at EU level, it does not fall within its exclusive competence. Topics such as the use of animals in shows, cultural or sporting events, are the responsibility of EU countries at national level.