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Document 52022SC0328

COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT FITNESS CHECK of the EU Animal Welfare legislation

SWD/2022/0328 final

Table of contents

Introduction

o    Short description of methodology    

1.2    Limitations and robustness of findings    

What was the expected outcome of the intervention?

1.1    Description of the intervention and its objectives    

1.2    Point(s) of comparison    

How has the situation evolved over the evaluation period?

Evaluation findings

4.1.    To what extent was the intervention successful and why?    

4.1.1    Effectiveness    

4.1.2    Efficiency    

4.1.3     Coherence    

4.2     How did the EU intervention make a difference?    

4.3     Is the intervention relevant?    

4.3.1    What are the current needs, interests and expectations of stakeholders and to what extent does the current EU animal welfare legislation address them?    

4.3.2    Does the EU legislation on animal welfare remain fit for purpose in the light of the latest developments and ongoing/future challenges?    

What are the conclusions and lessons learned?

o    General conclusions    

o    Evaluation criteria assessment    

o    Lessons learned    

Annex I. Procedural information

Annex II. Methodology and analytical models used

Annex III. Evaluation matrix and, where relevant, Details on answers to the evaluation questions (by criterion)

Annex IV. Overview of benefits and costs and Table on simplification and burden reduction

Annex V. Stakeholder Consultation - Synopsis Report

Annex VI. Intervention Logic

Annex VII. Questionnaires used for interviews and the targeted survey

Fitness Check - EU animal welfare legislation

Annex VIII. Cost-Benefit Analysis of the EU Animal Welfare Legislation

Executive summary

Table of Content

List of Figures

Introduction

Background    

Objective    

Scope    

Methodological approach

Conceptual challenges    

Approach    

Results

Overview of costs and benefits identified in the evaluation of the general directive    

Overview of costs and benefits identified in the evaluation of the farm level legislation    

Pigs directive    

Laying hens directive    

Broilers directive (chickens kept for meat production)    

Calves directive    

Overview of costs and benefits identified in the evaluation of legislation on the protection of animals during transport    

Selected provisions    

Legislation in total    

Overview of costs and benefits of identified in the evaluation of the legislation on the protection of animals at the time of killing    

Selected provisions    

Legislation in total    

Recent external assessments: Expert interviews

Conclusion

Annex

Pigs directive: cost of compliance estimates    

Manipulable material for weaners and rearing pigs    

Castration    

Floor properties for weaners and rearing pigs    

Group housing for gestating sows    

Provisions in total    

Laying hens directive: cost of compliance estimates    

Ban of unenriched cages    

Additional requirements for unenriched cages during the transitional period    

Alternative systems    

Beak trimming    

Provisions in total    

Broilers directive    

Provisions in total    

Calves directive    

Confinement, size/properties of individual pens, floor area for group housing    

Provisions in total    

Transport directive: cost of compliance    

Literature



Glossary

Term or acronym

Meaning or definition

CAP

Common Agricultural Policy

COA

European Court of Auditors

ECJ

The Court of Justice of the European Union

EFSA

European Food and Safety Authority

EPRS

European Parliament Research Service

EUAWS

European Union Animal Welfare Strategy (2012-2015)

FPD

Foot-pad Dermatitis

OCR

Official Controls Regulation



·Introduction

Under the EU Farm to Fork Strategy , , the Commission has committed to revise the following pieces of EU animal welfare legislation 1  by 2023, to ensure a higher level of animal welfare by aligning the current rules with the latest scientific evidence, broadening their scope and making them easier to enforce, as well as to contribute to the achievement of a more sustainable food system:

· Council Directive 98/58/EC of 20 July 1998 concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes, (the “Farm Directive”)

· Council Directive 1999/74/EC of 19 July 1999 laying down minimum standards for the protection of laying hens (the “Laying Hens Directive”),

· Council Directive 2007/43/EC of 28 June 2007 laying down minimum rules for the protection of chickens kept for meat production (the “Broilers Directive”),

· Council Directive 2008/119/EC of 18 December 2008 laying down minimum standards for the protection of calves (the “Calves Directive”),

· Council Directive 2008/120/EC of 18 December 2008 laying down minimum standards for the protection of pigs (the “Pigs Directive”),

· Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 of 22 December 2004 on the protection of animals during transport (the “Transport Regulation”), and

· Council Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 of 24 September 2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing (the “Killing Regulation”).

In 2020, in order to implement this commitment, the Commission initiated a fitness check of the above-mentioned legislation which targets the welfare of food producing animals (hereafter also referred to as “EU animal welfare legislation”). This fitness check aims to assess whether the existing rules are still fit for purpose, in particular the extent to which they are relevant, efficient, effective, coherent, and have an added value. The Fitness Check covers the period from the adoption of each legislative act up to and including 2020, and all EU Member States, including the UK up to the end of its EU exit transition period 2 . The outcome of the fitness check will inform the revision of the EU animal welfare legislation 3 .

oShort description of methodology

The Commission published a roadmap setting out the scope and approach for the fitness check on 20 May 2020 for a four-week feedback period. Feedback was received from 172 citizens and organisations and was considered for the purpose of the fitness check.

A wide range of primary and secondary data sources have been used to collect evidence and answer the fitness check questions. An independent study to support the cost-benefit analysis was commissioned and launched in 2021, undertaken by an external expert, referred to as ‘the CBA study’ (see Annex VIII).

Stakeholders’ views were gathered through a public consultation and targeted consultation activities, such as interviews with stakeholders - including exchanges with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the EU Animal Welfare Platform - and a targeted survey. A Stakeholder Conference held on 9 December 2021 provided an additional opportunity to gather input on the shortcomings and achievements of the current EU animal welfare legislation. All stakeholder groups were reached, covering the supply chain from producers to consumers. A synopsis report summarising all consultation activities, as well as their results, is provided in Annex V.

The desk study comprised an extensive literature review, which included among others the analysis of scientific and policy documents produced by European institutions and bodies (such as scientific opinions from EFSA, audit reports from the European Commission, and impact assessments), reports and scientific publications from non-governmental organizations and dedicated research institutes, as well as academic literature.

1.2    Limitations and robustness of findings

Several challenges and limitations have been identified in the context of the activities referred to above.

-Data available at EU level is not extensive and reliable enough to convey meaningful information about levels of compliance with the legislation on animal welfare at farm, during transport and at the time of killing, as confirmed by the European Court of Auditors in its Special Report on Animal Welfare in 2018. 4  This conclusion is exacerbated by different interpretations of vague provisions by public and private stakeholders, which also affects the data reported by Member States in their annual reports to the Commission on the results of their official controls 5 on the respect of the existing rules along the agri-food chain. As a result, the annual reports are not sufficiently complete, consistent, reliable or sufficiently detailed to draw robust conclusions on compliance with the legislation across the EU.

-There is no single generally agreed indicator to measure animal welfare 6   7 (and not even any common definition of animal welfare). Hence, a detailed quantitative analysis of improvement in animal welfare because of EU legislation is difficult. This conclusion has been reached also by the European Commission in it its “Evaluation of the EU Policy on Animal Welfare and Possible Policy Options for the Future” 8 , published in 2010, which covered the same scope. In order to mitigate this, statistics on the incidence of injuries and certain diseases and on the sales of antibiotics were used to assess the level of animal welfare, as well as slaughterhouse statistics on mortality rates 9 .

-The reconstruction of the situation prior to the adoption of the current EU animal welfare legislation is mainly descriptive and based on reports, studies and information underpinning the various legislative acts. This is largely due to the lack of agreed welfare indicators to build solid points of comparison with time-span starting from the nineties, and also to the difficulty to collect data so many years later. 10  To mitigate the lack of quantitative data to measure the situation at the time the current EU animal welfare legislation was adopted, i.e. mainly in the nineties, focus has been put on providing a qualitative description as solid as possible, based on the limited data available, such as statistics on the incidence of injuries and certain diseases and on the sales of antibiotics, as well as slaughterhouse statistics on mortality rates, to assess developments in animal welfare over time.

-The lack of animal welfare indicators and data - including a lack of coherent production and price datasets – was a major impediment to the cost-benefit analysis. Many costs could not be monetised, and benefits could in general not be quantified. 11 . For the reasons of trade secrecy and a lack of pan-European data, interviewed stakeholders were generally not in a position to share detailed information on their sector’s business activities and market share. As a result, the consultation activities produced limited quantifiable evidence as regards the costs of compliance with the EU animal welfare legislation. Hence, the cost-benefit analysis rely to a large extent on literature available, including peer-reviewed publications and grey literature.

Despite the scarcity of data described above, the available literature and other evidence, including from on-site audits in the Member States, allow the fitness check findings to remain overall sufficiently robust as regards the development of animal welfare in the EU. However, to some extent assumptions had to be made, for instance as regards the environmental benefits provided by the current EU welfare legislation.

A detailed presentation of the methodological approach followed (including limitations and mitigation measures) can be found in Annex II. 

·What was the expected outcome of the intervention?

1.1 Description of the intervention and its objectives

The adoption of the current EU animal welfare legislation was primarily intended to improve animal welfare, to an economically acceptable extent 12 , by avoiding to expose animals to unnecessary suffering and pain and provide an environment corresponding to their needs, in light of new scientific knowledge available at the time when the legislative acts were adopted 13 . The expectations at the time of adoption of the animal welfare legislation (mostly in the 1990’s) were therefore focussed on triggering a shift from the objective of promoting food production to that of ensuring that animals did not suffer beyond what was necessary to ensure the viability of the production system, with a focus on improving the quality of the meat 14 . Embedding the protection of animal welfare into the objectives of EU legislation governing food producing animals was an important political achievement, and the expectations were that the main practices identified as unnecessary for the viability of the food production, e.g. pigs kept in isolation, poultry kept in high densities and killing without stunning, would cease to exist.

Another general objective was to reduce differences among the Member States in the rearing, transport and killing of farmed animals that distorted competition among operators and created obstacles to cross-border exchanges, by introducing common minimum standards across the EU. In addition, specific objectives were to address societal demands, considering animal welfare to be a Community value, and to improve the knowledge and competence among animal handlers.

At the time of adoption of current rules, animal welfare was understood as “avoiding unnecessary suffering of the animals”, based on the Five Freedoms principle s 15 . Earlier, animals were not even considered to feel pain 16 . As explained in section 4.3.2.1, such an understanding is not in line with the current perspective of animal welfare, which is reflected in the “Five Domains” principle and in which animal welfare is understood as the physical and mental state of an animal in relation to the conditions in which it lives and dies.

Before the adoption of the current EU animal welfare legislation, many animals were not protected from unnecessary suffering and pain across the EU, and there was an uneven playing field for EU business operators, because of outdated and incomplete animal welfare legislation at EU level, and the fact that the legislation was differently applied across the EU Member States 17 . There was a lack of enforcement by the Member States of the EU legislation in some areas, with important pieces of EU legislation not having been fully applied or not having the intended effects on the welfare of animals 18 . There was also a lack of knowledge of what animal welfare means among stakeholders dealing with animals, with consequences for the conception of modern production methods and more animal-friendly, alternative systems of production and practices.

Triggered by raising expectations from citizens and higher demands from business operators, and inspired by actions at international level, the current EU animal welfare legislation was adopted to address these problems. Legal and political commitments, as well as and societal concerns, as expressed in the EU Treaties 19 and in European Conventions on animal welfare 20 , were contextual to the adoption of the current EU animal welfare legislation. In addition, the legislation has changed, for instance for slaughterhouses, with the adoption of a series of EU legislative acts on food safety which emphasised the responsibilities of business operators 21

Animal welfare at farm level

The current EU legislation on animal welfare at farm level primarily covers intensive farming – or rather industrial - sectors (pigs, calves, laying hens and broilers). 22  

When it was adopted, the expectations were that it should improve animal welfare by providing an environment corresponding to the needs of the animals, established according to the scientific evidence available at that time 23 . It therefore introduced rules on housing and especially as regards space allowances, addressing the tethering of calves, group housing of sows and the ban on battery cages for laying hens. 24  For pigs, for example, it established the requirement to provide enrichment material. For laying hens, “enriched cages” and “alternative systems” were defined and established as alternatives to unenriched (“barren” or “battery”) cages. Calves were to benefit from an environment corresponding to their needs as a herd-living species. For that reason, it was provided that calves are to be reared in groups beyond a certain age.

The legislation was also expected to reduce differences in the rearing of livestock that distorted competition among operators established in different Member States, and created obstacles to those active in several Member States, by introducing common standards, higher than the standards in place at that time. Finally, the Farm Directive introduced rules applicable to all species of farmed animals: at the time rules existed only for pigs, calves, and laying hens 25 . In this respect the expectation was that animal welfare of species not covered by a specific legislation would increase.

The rules have been modified in different occasions and evolved over time towards a less prescriptive and towards more animal oriented approach, since 2007 complemented by animal based indicators, e.g. measuring food pad dermatitis on broilers (see also section 3.1) 26 .

Animal welfare during transport

In 1991 27 , the EU established common minimum rules on the protection of animals during transport, replacing old rules from 1977. Those rules abolished the systematic checks at the internal borders of the Community and aimed at regulating the long transport of animals as far as possible.

Such legislation was replaced by the current one 28 , adopted on the basis of the experience gained by implementing 1991 rules and in particular the difficulties encountered due to the differences in transposition of that Directive at national level, as well as new scientific evidence available 29 . The objective was to improve animal welfare by requiring further training of transporters and prior approval of the means of transport and limit long journeys as far as possible. However, contrary to the European Commission’s proposal tabled in 2003, the provisions on maximum journey times remained unchanged from previous rules laid down in 1991 due to the difficulties in finding a political agreement. By replacing a Directive with a Regulation, it was also expected that differences in implementation among Member States would be reduced.

Welfare at the time of killing

When Council Directive 93/119/EC was adopted, the objective was to avoid unnecessary suffering of animals when being slaughtered. For this purpose, the Directive laid down detailed rules on e.g. the construction, facilities and equipment of slaughterhouses. It also required that persons engaged in the handling and killing of the animals have the knowledge and skills necessary to perform the tasks “humanely and efficiently”.

The Directive was replaced in 2009 by the Killing Regulation establishing common and directly applicable rules on the welfare of animals at the time of killing, because of the important discrepancies between the Member States’ transposition and implementation of the Directive. For instance, the Regulation increased the operators’ responsibilities and introduced new training requirements. Furthermore, technical standards and scientific knowledge had evolved since 1993 30 and there was a need to incorporate import related requirements 31 , further to the adoption of the OIE international animal welfare standards in 2004. 32  

Similarly to the rules on transport, it was expected that animal welfare would improve and differences in implementation among Member States would be reduced (by replacing the Directive with a Regulation). 33

For a more detailed illustration of the intervention logic, see chart in Annex VI.

1.2Point(s) of comparison 

The situation before the adoption of the current EU animal welfare legislation in the three main welfare areas is taken as a point of comparison for the purpose of the fitness check. In the early nineties, many animals in Europe were subject to unnecessary suffering and pain as they were kept and transported under conditions that did not allow them to express their natural behaviour, killed in a way that did not sufficiently protect them from pain, and often handled by people without sufficient competence about animal welfare. 34 35 36 37  In general, the systems for animal husbandry, transport and slaughter were largely driven by economic reasons with very little consideration of animal needs. Sometimes, in the absence of common standards for animal welfare, Member States’ national legislation differed, adopting stricter welfare standards, to the extent that they negatively affected the common market, causing unfair competition and hampered the productivity of the EU agri-food sector.

As for farm level welfare, calves were provided a poor diet to make their meat white enough to interest consumers 38 , keeping them in individual stalls for all their life, often in complete darkness 39 . To increase the productivity of animals at farms, pregnant sows were confined in stalls and tethered, without any possibility for normal social interactions with other animals or to turn around, laying hens were kept cramped in small battery cages that did not permit them to flap their wings 40 . For instance, in 1996, 93% of laying hens in the EU lived in battery cages (of a size of an A4 page), and only 7% in alternative systems 41 . In short, the requirements were not adapted to the animals’ needs. The use of antimicrobials and other veterinary medicines was widespread, chronic diseases and mortality rates were high and injuries were frequent 42 . As described in section 2.1, the current EU Directives were expected to allow animals to express their natural behaviour to a greater extent.

As for animal transport, in 2005, around 72 000 long journeys (between 8 and 24 hours) and very long journeys (more than 24 hours) were performed in the EU 43 . Many animals arrived to slaughterhouses with injuries, transported by companies that were not specialised in animals transport and handled by people without sufficient knowledge of animal welfare, which in some cases resulted in low quality meat and being rejected for human consumption. The Transport Regulation was expected to address these problems, for instance by requiring that training should be a prerequisite for any person handing animals during transport (see also section 2.1).

As for slaughter, the killing of animals was a process that caused stress for the animals, jeopardized the work safety of slaughterhouse staff and reduced the quality of the meat. The Killing Regulation was in particular expected to address the problems identified related to a lack of harmonised methodology for new stunning methods, a lack of clear responsibilities for operators, insufficient competence of personnel or insufficient conditions for the welfare of animals during killing for disease control purposes (see also section 2.1) 44 .

·How has the situation evolved over the evaluation period?

3.1 Developments concerning animal welfare

Animal welfare at farm level

During the last two decades, there has been a decline in livestock populations across the EU. Between 2001 and 2020, the EU’s total livestock count for pigs, bovine animals, sheep and goats fell by an estimated 8.9 % 45 . In 2020, there were 146 million head of pigs, 76 million head of bovine animals (such as cattle or buffaloes), and an estimated 75 million head of sheep and goats on EU farms 46 . Broilers, egg-laying hens and turkeys in the EU are estimated around 4.5 billion 47 . A vast majority of the EU’s livestock are reared on very large farms, and that share has been increasing in recent years 48 .The number of farms is in steep decline: in 2016 there were 10,3 million agricultural holdings in the EU-27, which is 4,1 million fewer farms than in 2005 49 .

Amendments to the original EU animal welfare legislation did not change the initial architecture of the EU animal welfare legislation, anchored at the definition of animal welfare as simply the avoidance of unnecessary suffering. However, since the nineties, not only the farm structure but also the assessment of animal welfare has been changing. When the current legislation was adopted, welfare was still assessed ‘on the basis of the housing and resources that have been provided to animals (input- or resource-based measures)’ 50 . It was assumed that the primary source of unnecessary suffering was related to certain type of housing and the lack of a certain quantity of resources, depending on the species. 

In the last 15 years, with the evolvement of the concept of animal welfare, also the focus of the assessment has shifted from a focus on structural requirements to ‘outcome- or animal-based measures (variables that are measured directly on animals, e.g. injury or lameness) as valid indicators of animal welfare, since welfare is a characteristic of the individual animal, not just of the system in which animals are farmed’ 51

Regarding the implementation of the Directives, certain Member States have introduced stricter requirements than those set out at EU level, while others followed the minimum requirements 52 .

The European Court of Justice has delivered several judgements in recent years, in which animal welfare is recognised to be an objective as a legitimate public interest for Union legislation to pursue 53 .

Animal welfare during transport

Data from TRACES (Trade Control and Expert System) 54 indicates that the total number of animals transported between the EU Member States increased by 19% between 2009 and 2015. The increase of transported animals caused an upwards trend in the number of consignments within the same years. Nevertheless, different trends were observed for the different animal categories. The number of transported cattle, sheep and goats decreased as well as their number of consignments. The number of heads of horses, pigs and poultry increased together with the number of consignments for said animals. During the same time, the consignments for pigs, sheep and goats remained relatively stable 55 .

The duration of intra-EU journeys has increased for all time categories from 2005 to 2015. Short journeys, lasting less than 8 hours, have relatively steadily increased from 227 000 journeys per year in 2005 to 260 000 journeys in 2015. Long journeys (between 8 and 24 hours) and very long journeys (more than 24 hours) have almost doubled in the same period of time, going from 72 000 journeys per year to 125 000 journeys. The eastward expansion of the EU resulted in increased transport times. The biggest increase in long-distance journeys (+80 %) occurred between 2005 and 2009, after the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU 56 .

Today, around 4 million cattle, 28 million pigs, 4 million sheep, around 243 million poultry and 150 thousand horses are transported for more than 8 hours within the EU every year 57 .

The case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union 58 , has clarified that the operators of transports to third countries shall ensure that such transports comply with the EU animal welfare standards  until their final place of destination in a non-EU country. It seems that most transporters do not meet applicable EU rules after leaving the Union 59 .

A vast majority of respondents (94% - 55 564 out of 59 281) considered that the export of live animals to non-EU countries for slaughter should be prohibited. Such an option was supported by one-third of the business organisations (32% -211 out of 660).

In 2016, the exports of live cattle and sheep were worth more than 4 billon euro according to Eurostat. In 2018, the EU's beef exports were estimated to be 1.24 billion euro. Over the last years, exports of live animals and meat have increased. Live animals go mainly to the Middle East and North Africa. For instance, 1 102 827 live beef animals were exported from the EU in 2018 60 .

Market dynamics are the main factor for animal transports. One of the main reasons for this trade is still to exploit price differentials between Member States. In particular, the cost of feed is one of the most important cost factors in animal production, and this cost varies between Member States and regions. Furthermore, a limited slaughter or processing capacity in some Member States as well as the fact that regional production of meat within the EU does not equal regional consumption, may also encourage intra-Union trade in live animals 61 . In this sense, the Transport Regulation objective to reduce long journeys have not been fully met.

Animal welfare at the time of killing

The development of meat production in the EU seems rather stable since more than a decade. For instance, the pig meat production in the EU increased from 21,1 million tons in 2004 to 23 million tons in 2020, and poultry meat production increased from 9,4 million tons in 2004 to 13,6 million tons in 2020. At the same time, however, the production of bovine meat has decreased from 7,6 million tons in 2004 to 6,8 million tons in 2020 62 . Every year nearly 360 million pigs, sheep, goats and cattle as well as several billion poultry are killed in EU slaughterhouses. The European fur industry adds another 25 million animals to the figure 63 .

As regards the compliance with the Killing Regulation, significant problems with water bath stunning in the poultry sector have been identified 64 .

Scientists have recognised fish as sentient beings 65 , which is not reflected in the EU animal welfare legislation in the sense of specific requirements. As regards the killing of fish, some processes are pointed out to be particularly inhumane. Killing of farmed fish by taking them out of the water takes a long time before fish die and it is frightening and painful to the fish 66 .

3.2. Compliance and enforcement

Official controls of compliance with the EU animal welfare legislation is primarily the responsibility of the Member States. Such controls have been performed in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 67  up to 2019, and are currently carried out in accordance with the Official Controls Regulation (OCR) (EU) 2017/625 68 . At EU level, audits 69 performed by the Commission allow for recommendations to be made to the Member States, if necessary followed up by infringement procedures 70 . The initiation of such proceedings against those Member States that had failed to ensure implementation of the ban on unenriched cages for laying hens in 2012, led to several Member States taking accelerated corrective actions, averting the need for court action to proceed in most cases 71 .

According to the findings of the evaluation of the EU Animal Welfare Strategy (2012-2015), in 2021, the areas where most Member States are struggling to comply with the requirements set in the legislation are animal transport, welfare of pigs (e.g. routine pigs’ tail docking) and protection at the time of killing 72

Welfare during transport

Compliance with the Transport Regulation in the EU has improved over time. However, there are still challenging issues associated with long journeys and in particular transport in extreme temperatures and the transport of vulnerable animals, such as unweaned calves and pregnant animals 73 .

The main concerns for the welfare of animals relate to the part of the journey outside of the EU. Available information indicates that there are still challenging issued regarding transporters’ compliance with the applicable/relevant EU rules after leaving the Union, e.g. as regards transport of unfit animals, breaches in stocking densities, and insufficient provision of rest, feed, water and bedding 74 .

Other issues in terms of enforcement include non-deterrent penalties for non-compliance. The measures adopted following non-compliances with animal welfare rules during transport are decided by national competent authorities and therefore differ throughout the EU and so are the triggering levels for sanctions and penalties and the amounts imposed for non-compliances 75 . There are also practical challenges to impose penalties on transporters who are registered in another Member States, as different national administrations are involved.

54% of respondents to the public consultation undertaken in the context of the evaluation of the EU Animal Welfare strategy (2012-2015) confirmed that compliance is an issue in the transport area, with a few stakeholders highlighting long journeys and transport to third countries, high temperatures, non-observance of space requirements and transport of calves and adult bovines as key issues 76 .

As regards the transport by sea, Member States’ systems in place to approve livestock vessels and authorise transporters 77 are insufficient (with the exception of Ireland and Portugal). Main reasons for this are the lack of technical experience and resources to carry out all the necessary specific tasks 78 .

Welfare of pigs

Available data show that tail-docking of pigs is still a routine practice in almost all Member States, although this is forbidden by current legislation, and approximately 150 million pigs annually are subject to this practice. With the exception of Finland and Sweden, and although actions have been taken by the EU Member States, such actions have not yet resulted in better compliance with the provisions of the Pig Directive which prohibit routine tail docking in pigs or with providing suitable enrichments materials (such as rope, fresh wood, branches and straw) in sufficient quantity 79 . The lack of serious and uniform enforcement is a challenge for stopping routine tail docking of pigs. In addition, the very active internal market for pigs has been identified as a reason for non-compliance, since Member States’ authorities and producers are afraid of losing competitiveness if they strengthen enforcement towards others who are competitors 80 .

Welfare at the time of killing

National or regional authorities carry out checks on slaughterhouses because of the food safety and disease transmission legislation 81 as well as the animal welfare legislation. The requirements for such checks are therefore more demanding than those for checks on farm. As a result, the enforcement of animal welfare regulations at slaughterhouses is often a more efficient tool than the enforcement of animal welfare regulations on farms 82

There is evidence of a lack of compliance with the Killing Regulation, for instance as concerns the application the required parameters for electrical waterbath stunning of poultry 83 . In addition, in 2019 there were documentations by NGOs and media regarding fraudulent treatment of animals at slaughterhouses in some Member States indicating a lack of regular supervision of some areas by official services 84 . As a follow-up, the European Commission is performing a series of audits in certain Member States, the results of which are published on the Commission’s website (including the recommendations made in relation to the implementation issues observed).

·Evaluation findings

4.1.    To what extent was the intervention successful and why? 

As described below, the current EU legislation has improved the welfare of many animals, although not for all species, for instance by improving the competence of certain animal handlers. It has also to some extent helped to ensure fair competition for EU business operators, although the adoption of differing national animal welfare requirements in recent years weakens this achievement. Business operators, in particular farmers, often consider the market return on their costs of compliance to be insufficient. While the consistency between the respective pieces of EU animal welfare legislation, and the coherence with other policy areas, in general is good, there is still room for further synergies.

4.1.1    Effectiveness

As mentioned in section 2.1, the expectations were mainly related to the elimination of “bad” practices which were considered unnecessary for the viability of the production, as illustrated in the table below. For farming, it was the practice of keeping calves and sows in isolation and keeping laying hens in small, unenriched cages. For transport, it was the long journeys. For slaughter, it was the slaughter without stunning and better animal handling at the slaughterhouse.

Focus was put on addressing matters of political importance, recognising citizens’ expectations and the protection of the welfare of food producing animals as a legitimate public objective: the Directives in particular set general “obligations of result” rather than laying down detailed prescriptions governing farming practices and left room for interpretation and manoeuvre to the Member States, which, in the vast majority of instances (influenced also by national factors), transposed EU rules keeping their generic language and without “operationalising” them. This, in turn, made the monitoring of implementation very difficult.

Clearly, the expectations were very limited in terms of concrete and measurable outcomes relating to the improvement in animal welfare: those expected outcomes can be described as a significant reduction of certain type of major injuries and diseases (at farms, during transport and at the time of killing) for the main categories of food producing animals on which the political debate was concentrated. Therefore, the “success” of the animal welfare legislation has been measured by the extent to which the animals are allowed to express their natural behaviour, on the basis of certain measurable indicators such as mortality rates, the use of antibiotics, and the prevalence of certain injuries and diseases.

Available evidence suggests an improvement of animal welfare if compared to the situation before the application of the current EU animal welfare rules 85 . This is in line with the expectations on how the objective of improving animal welfare would be achieved, as described above. However, the degree of such improvement is not the same for all the species 86 and across the different welfare areas.

Expectation

Objective

(key requirements)

Indicators

Outcome
(level of success, maximum: 5 +)

To improve animal welfare by eliminating “bad” practices, but only to the extent that a viable food production system is still ensured.

Farming: group housing for sows and calves; enriched cages for laying hens; better environment for pigs allowing not to dock their tails without triggering a tail biting outbreak; less lesions for broilers.

Injuries (foot-pad dermatitis), diseases (mastitis, bronchitis), mortality rates, use of antimicrobials (data from ESVAC), use of cages.

++++ (tail docking still practiced routinely in most Member States)

Transport: fitness for transport; limit long journeys as far as possible; exchange of information between competent authorities

Injuries (keel-bone fractures, leg disorders), medical condition (lameness), mortality rates, exchanges of communication between Member States regarding non-compliance.

+++ (long journeys not reduced; limited communication, in particular in cases of export by road)

Killing: Stunning; better animal handling

Number of animals stunned before killing; Presence of Animal Welfare Officers in all large slaughterhouses; Certification of competence for all slaughterhouse staff handling live animals.

++++ (waterbath stunning of poultry and CO2 stunning of pigs remain as difficult areas)

Concerning welfare at farm, the housing system has a major impact on animal welfare. Based on requirements introduced by the Pigs Directive for all holdings (from 1 January 2013), sows and gilts are group-housed for certain period of their breeding lives. Previously, breeding females could be kept their whole lives within individual stalls, without being able to move or turn. Regarding laying hens, from 1 January 2012, cages without enrichment materials and very little space to move (less than an A4 page) were banned in the EU and are no longer used 87 . The ban brought an improvement in the life of the approximatively 360 million laying hens kept in the Union 88 . In 1996, 93% of laying hens in the EU lived in battery cages, and 7% in alternative systems. In 2020, 48% live in enriched cages, 33,9% in barn/aviary systems and 18,1% (of which 6,2% in organic systems) are free range 89 . This results in a 93% increase of animals kept in alternative systems, allowing for a greater extent of natural behaviour to be expressed.

The only animal based indicators of welfare currently required by EU law to be monitored by animal handlers, and reported to the competent authorities, are found in the Broilers Directive 90 : It refers to "poor welfare conditions such as abnormal levels of contact dermatitis, parasitism and systemic illness in the holding". Slaughterhouse inspections of footpad dermatitis (a condition characterised by lesions on the feet of poultry) are considered best at demonstrating whether animal welfare of broilers must be or has improved in a specific holding, as it is the first contact dermatitis that appears 91 .

Data received from the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration show that since 2002, the occurrence of footpad dermatitis in broilers has been monitored in all Danish slaughterhouses for broilers and has decreased. The development since 2002 has been favourable 92 . Similarly, in Sweden, the occurrence of footpad dermatitis decreased from 11 % in 1994 to 6 % in 1996 93 . And with an almost constant decrease since the entry into force of the Broilers Directive, the occurrence of footpad dermatitis in Sweden nowadays seems negligible 94 . Corresponding data could exist in all Member States, but this is not collected in any structural or regular manner across the EU (since no such requirements exist).

Another indicator is represented by mortality rates 95 . For instance, statistics from the Netherlands suggests a reduction in piglet mortality (from 13,5% in 2015 to 12,2% in 2019) 96

Somatic cell count is widely used in the EU to monitor milk quality, as an indicator of milk hygiene. It is also an indicator of sub-clinical mastitis, a disease which is more common among high-yielding cows in intensive production systems. Data collected from certain Member States show a constant reduction in the average somatic cell count over a period of many years, which could indicate a certain improvement of the welfare of dairy cattle in the EU in this regard 97 . However, some data also suggests an increase of somatic cells in recent years, for instance in Sweden 98 .

Despite the lack of commonly agreed indicators to measure improvements of welfare, it can be considered that the implementation of legislative requirements, such as those on group housing of calves, sows and gilts 99 , and the ban of unenriched cages, have contributed to improve the environment in which the animals live, and therefore improved the welfare of animals as it allows them to behave more naturally 100 . This reasoning seems to be supported by a reduction of number of certain injuries 101  and chronic diseases that are conditioned to the environment, i.e. by the type of farming, such as mastitis 102 in cows, and bronchitis in pigs, if compared to the situation a number of years ago.

Data also seems to support the picture of an improved animal welfare during transport in the EU if compared to the situation prior to 2005 103 . For instance, the number of animals reported "dead on arrival" decreased significantly from 2005 to 2009. The difference in death rates was greater for long journeys than for shorter ones. Compared to the situation prior to 2005, there has also been a significant decrease in the number of animals "observed unfit for travel upon arrival at destination" 104 . For instance, in Romania the Transport Regulation is considered to have improved many conditions related to animal protection and welfare, such as loading surface, transport duration, lesion and mortality rate upon arrival at destination 105 .

Still, compliance with animal welfare requirements remains a challenge. In 2020, 7 703 administrative sanctions were applied by the Member States’ competent authorities, as a result of their official controls on animal transports. The main issues were the fitness of the animals (cattle and pigs), transport practices (poultry) and transport documentation 106 . The absence of clear, easy channels of communication and feedback between public and animal health authorities and legal services for cases involving the transport of unfit animals hinders effective enforcement. Strict competence barriers and poor inter-departmental communication, including absence of feedback, were frequent weaknesses in the systems which hindered free discussion and progression of such cases 107 . Furthermore it has been noted, e.g. by Belgium, that foreign transporters are responsible for a significant proportion of the infringements, something which is posing further difficulties for enforcement for the competent authorities 108 .

From 2011 to 2020, the sales of antimicrobial veterinary medicines in the EU was reduced by 43%. This seems to indicate an improved animal health, to which higher standards of animal welfare have contributed 109 . In particular, there is evidence that the need to use antimicrobials (other than coccidiostats) for treating common conditions has been substantially reduced, or avoided altogether, in those Member States which have a strong focus on welfare, health and hygiene issues 110 .

As regards slaughter, there is also evidence of improvements. A series of Commission audits in 13 Member States indicated that business operators had acted on their new responsibilities in the Killing Regulation and designated animal welfare officers, put standard operating procedures in place and monitored their implementation. There was generally better compliance and better animal welfare in the red meat sector whereas there were significant problems with waterbath stunning in the poultry sector 111 .
The improvement in animal welfare is supported by literature 112 , and reflected in all stakeholder interviews. In addition, the current EU animal welfare legislation is considered to have provided important ecosystems services and contributed to better public health (less incidence and spread of animal-born diseases 113 ) as well as to a better working experience for staff and an improved sectoral image 114 .

In the public consultation, more respondents agreed (49% - 28 875 out of 59 281) than disagreed (40% - 23 999) that, compared to 25 years ago, there is more uniform protection of farmed animals across EU countries. However, the result appears to indicate that more could be achieved. Indeed, 92% of respondents in the public consultation declared that the EU legislation does not ensure adequate and uniform protection of all animal species in need. This is also supported by literature 115 .



Compared to the period prior to its adoption, the EU animal welfare legislation seems to have improved the welfare of many of Europe’s animals, in particular those that are covered by targeted legislation, such as pigs, calves, laying hens, and animals during transport. As an example: Around 360 million laying hens are no longer kept in unenriched cages. The welfare of animals such as turkeys and dairy cows for which species-specific legislation exists, does not seem to have improved sufficiently 116 .

Even after the adoption of the current EU rules, many animals cannot express natural behaviour because of their restriction to move, e.g. animals kept under individual confinement and in cages. Also, the current legislation does not require calves to be kept with their mothers after birth, although that would be their natural needs and broilers are kept in dimmed light to decrease aggressive behaviour that could easily appear when kept in high stocking densities and in natural light. Mutilations such as routine tail docking, beak trimming and dehorning are still practiced. Many dairy cows suffer due to inappropriate conditions e.g. tethering, too short stalls for size of body, cement flooring responsible for lameness and injuries. Intensification of milk production still leads to regular mastitis and metabolic problems resulting in pain and suffering and finally a reduced longevity 117   118

This is due to a compromise between economic factors (the “rational development of production”) and animal welfare objectives, reflected in the objectives of the legislation currently in force.

Evidence supports that EU animal welfare legislation has contributed to a fairer competition among EU producers 119 . This seems to be confirmed by the results of the public consultation. More respondents (48% - 28 579 out of 59 281) agreed than disagreed (32% -18 914 out of 59 281) that having common rules on animal welfare has facilitated trade and improved competition in Europe, by removing obstacles to trading animals and products of animal origin in the single market. This corresponds well with the targeted survey, in which 49% (20 out of 41) of the respondents considered that the EU animal welfare legislation has strongly or relatively contributed to a better functioning of the EU internal market.

Expectation

Objective

(key requirements)

Indicators

Outcome
(level of success, maximum: 5 +)

Improve the functioning of the internal market.

Common minimum standards.

The extent to which fair competition among operations active in different Member States is ensured, as indicated by complaints related to access to other Member States’ market and the level of intra-EU trade.

+++

In the targeted survey, a vast majority of the respondents (85% - 35 out of 41) considered that the EU animal welfare legislation has contributed to some extent (little, relatively or strongly) to a better functioning of the EU market. Those data are supported also by literature, such as the European Parliament’s Research Service’s evaluation of the EU animal welfare legislation, performed in 2021.

In the public consultation, a majority of business organisations (51% - 337 out of 660) strongly agreed or tended to agree to the claim that the EU animal welfare rules has facilitated trade and improved competition in Europe, for instance by removing obstacles to trading animals and products of animal origin in the single market. Only 15% (102 out of 660) of the business organisations strongly disagreed to that statement. Those data are also supported by literature, including the evaluation of the EU animal welfare legislation performed by the Commission in 2010 120 .

However, it also follows from the majority of interviews with pan-European producers and business organisations that the more restrictive national legislations of some Member States are problematic since those national rules also must be respected to be able to operate on that market, which increases their production costs and affect the single market.

Another interviewed business organisation explained that the uneven implementation of the Transport Regulation has a negative impact on their costs. One example given was related to transports in high temperatures during summer: While transports are halted in many countries due to the heat, they still take place in some other countries.

Furthermore, while the legislation has in general helped to reduce distortions in the internal market caused by differences in national standards, there is a lack of action on enforcement 121 . In addition, certain Member States have taken more and more national measures going beyond an EU animal welfare legislation that remained unchanged for more than 10 years. Because of this, despite the improvement, it cannot be considered that the objectives of the legislation were fully achieved. 

To a considerable extent, the shortcomings of the current EU animal welfare legislation are caused by a lack of precision of some of the current rules, lack of species-specific provisions and lack of tools for monitoring and a consistent, uniform enforcement.

Vagueness of current rules

A certain lack of precision of current rules has been identified as a barrier to fully achieve the objective of improving welfare as it impedes an effective harmonisation 122 and constitutes one of the obstacles to the success of the legislation. Different interpretations and implementation of EU animal welfare legislation led to differing levels of animal welfare in the EU and resulted in ‘a lack of consistency around enforcement’ 123 . Whilst numerous questions have been clarified by the Court of Justice through the preliminary ruling procedure, in the area of animal transport 124 and stunning 125 , numerous issues remain.

Certain requirements are too vague to allow proper enforcement. For example, in a case related to Directive 91/629/EEC laying down obligatory minimum standards for the protection of calves, the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice considered that “the conditional nature of the rules precludes them from being recognised as having the slightest binding force and that where, on the other hand, a standard is laid down in mandatory terms, its imprecision renders it unenforceable” 126 .

In the context of an evaluation of the animal welfare Directives performed by the European Parliament Research Service in 2021, most stakeholders interviewed 127 consider that the wording of the legislation is often ‘inadequate, too vague, or providing exceptions or derogations to requirements’ 128 .

Examples of vague terminology such as ‘sufficient’ or ‘appropriate’ exist in all areas of EU animal welfare legislation, i.e. farm level, transport, and at the time of killing. While the use of words like “sufficient” or “adequate” can be necessary when legislating at EU level to leave margin for necessary local adaptations, the use of these words in the EU animal welfare legislation is so widespread that it is an obstacle for effective and coherent enforcement. As an example, in the Transport Regulation, the word “sufficient” is used 21 times, the word “adequate” 14 times and the word “appropriate” 39 times.

Similarly, some transport rules have been interpreted differently by Member States, including as regards the fitness of animals to travel 129 130 . The absence of definitions sometimes accentuates the lack of precision(e.g. on what is to be considered an “end of career animal”). 

To some extent, the use of vague terms as “appropriate” follows naturally from the use of Directives, as these need to be transposed and implemented at national level and include “obligations of results” for the Member States. However, the Farm Directive is so vague that it gives too wide a margin for implementation.

Furthermore, as mentioned above, also the directly applicable Regulations contain these vague terms. This is usually the result of the political context during the legislative process. One example of this is the rules on journey times in the Transport Regulation. Another example is the Pigs Directive, where the Commission proposed a prohibition on castrations and mutilations, while the legislator opted to allow for flexibility and derogations.

However, also the Commission proposals contained vague terminology. This can best be explained by the fact that the introduction of objectives related to the protection of animal welfare in EU secondary legislation was already an important political achievement, and that the EU animal welfare legislation itself recognises the protection of animal welfare as an objective only to the extent to which animal welfare does not compromise the viability of the production as the result of a compromise between different interests (welfare of animals vs economic viability of food business operators). Hence the need to leave some margin for interpretation to Member States in certain cases in order for the Member States to be able to take into account national factors.

In the public consultation less than a quarter of the respondents strongly agreed (3%, 1 998 of 59 281) or tended to agree (18%, 10 547 of 59 281) that the current EU animal welfare legislation is clear and easy to apply. And in the targeted survey, a clear majority (64% - 53 out of 83) considered the current EU animal welfare requirements to be unclear and difficult to apply. A view that was shared by 49% (322 out of 660) of business organisations.

The Farm Directive has to some extent established a common framework for the welfare of farmed animals in the EU 131 . However, the vagueness of some requirements and large margins of interpretation makes it difficult to directly attribute changes in welfare to certain provisions. 132 For instance, the requirements on the level of competence of animal handlers are not specified clearly enough 133 , which allows animals to be handled by people without sufficient knowledge about animal welfare. Examples of vague terminology such as ‘sufficient’ or ‘appropriate’ exist in all areas of EU animal welfare legislation, i.e. farm level, transport, and at the time of killing.

With regard to welfare of pigs, the reference to “routine” tail-docking may be interpreted in different ways. Furthermore, the Pigs Directive states that: ‘[pigs] must have permanent access to a sufficient quantity of material to enable proper investigation and manipulation activities’. Here, the term ‘sufficient quantity’ is not sufficiently precise and open for interpretation, which reinforces the problems of implementation of the Directive. 134 135

Certain practices, such as mutilations or keeping animals in high stocking densities have remained widespread because of exceptions built e.g. into the Pigs Directive 136  or into the Broilers Directive. Diverging national requirements or tolerances for the application of such exceptions have created ‘significant distortions’ 137 . These distortions are due to certain Member States going beyond the EU minimum requirements 138 .

Evidence collected through interviews illustrates ‘differences in the level of political commitment to achieving better on-farm animal welfare’ in the way some countries have implemented the legislation 139 . For instance, in 2019 Italy and Spain provided virtually no regulation that goes beyond the EU requirements (and in these countries the enforcement of these EU requirements was also weak, resulting in several proceedings by the EU, e.g. as regards the use of battery cages for poultry), while in Germany, regulations exist independently from EU demands, reflecting a high level of public concern for animal welfare 140 . In the past, and still to a certain extent today, Member States of the North West of the EU have been at the forefront of animal welfare. However, due to increased awareness, political commitment and activism in member states such as Italy, France and Czechia, the image of a leading North and West and a lagging South and East has begun to change 141 . Social media, which did not exist when the current EU legislation was adopted, has also contributed to greater awareness about animal welfare, often through shocking images from intensive farming systems, animal transports and slaughterhouses 142 .

Judging from complaints addressed to the European Commission, the fact that Member States are allowed to adopt stricter national rules - provided among other that these do not have a negative impact on the internal market and are proportionate - and have a margin of discretion as regards EU animal welfare legislation, causes practical problems for EU business operators involved in cross-border animal transport 143 .  

For instance, in 2005 an organisation of pig producers brought an action before a court in Denmark, arguing that the Danish legislation relating to the transport of pigs imposed certain standards in respect of the minimum height of compartments, minimum inspection height and maximum loading densities which were contrary to various rules of the Transport Regulation 144 .

In the light of the above, a common understanding of existing animal welfare rules and how they are to be applied and enforced seems needed. This is supported by views expressed by interviewed business organisations, representing farmers and food processors.

Species-specific provisions    

Many provisions in the Farm Directive are too generic to protect the welfare of certain animals, such as farmed fish, turkeys, rabbits, equines and bovines, as they are not adapted to their specific needs 145 . For example, the Farm Directive is silent as regards the practice of extracting blood serum (to produce PMSG) from pregnant mares, while certain stakeholders consider this practice to be incompatible with the welfare of the animals. Also the practice of force feeding is questioned by stakeholders. However, foie gras production is legal in the European Union, and it is up to Member States to decide whether to ban the production within their own territories provided that the marketing of foie gras remains permitted. This is in line with Article 13 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU, which requires that “customs of the Member States relating in particular to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage” must be respected.

Absence of harmonised species-specific requirements also resulted in the adoption of differing national legislation, e.g. on rabbit farming, leading to diverging animal welfare in Member States and in unequal baselines for competition (see examples in Annex III).

According to most stakeholders, the absence of species-specific protection is a key problem for dairy cows, broiler and hen breeders, rabbits, sheep, and turkey 146 . The “lack of more specific requirements for housing of cattle has been linked to low-cost housing solutions that do not provide a proper level of protection in case of adverse weather, and to overcrowding in confined housing” 147 . Another example is “the absence of more specific requirements on tethering has been linked with tethering of dairy cows for long periods of time in some parts of Europe” 148 .

Similarly, more specific requirements would be needed in order to increase the welfare of some fish species, such as the European sea bass and gilthead sea bream, at the time of killing 149 .

The issue of lack of species-specific legislation, both at farm level and during transport and at the time of killing, is raised by the interviewed organisations. Furthermore, although in the Open Public Consultation, 92% of the respondents (54 504 out of 59 281) considered that the current EU animal welfare legislation ensures an adequate and uniform protection of all animals in need, 89% of the respondents (52 593 out of 59 281) considered that specific requirements for further animal species should be introduced.

Another objective of the current EU animal welfare legislation was to better address the societal demands at the time of its adoption. Those demands are reflected in the European Parliament’s resolution of 20 February 1987 on animal welfare policy, which called on the Commission to make proposals on the rearing of livestock, including minimum standards for the intensive farming of pigs and veal calves, and on the protection of animals during transport 150 .

Another reflection of the political context is provided by the Council of Europe’s Conventions on the Protection for Animals in International Transports (1964), for Animals kept for Farming purposes (1976) and for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter (1979).  The “bad” practices targeted by the current EU animal welfare legislation represent the areas of greatest political and societal concern in the early 1990’s, as expressed in these documents.

Expectation

Objective

(key requirements)

Indicators

Outcome
(level of success, maximum: 5 +)

Better address societal demands.

Provisions targeting “bad” practices, such as the ban on the unenriched cages for laying hens, the ban on routine tail docking of pigs and the rules on group housing of sows.

The extent to which the notion of animal welfare as a Community value, as expressed through political conventions and resolutions, is reflected in the legislation.

+++ (routine tail docking of pigs remains a problem).

To note is that the expectations have evolved to also include the full range of needs of the animals, including socialisation.

Monitoring systems and enforcement tools

It is assumed that a high level of enforcement of the current EU legislation improves compliance and hence contributes to achieving higher levels of animal welfare and similar - if not the same - conditions for EU operators.

As explained in section 3.1, slaughterhouse inspections have been found to be the most efficient and effective way of prioritising farm investigations with the aim to check the level of animal welfare. Also, authorities and keepers are able to measure progress and maintain standards based on real animal welfare outcomes, e.g. through scoring footpad dermatitis 151 152 .

The lack of commonly agreed indicators has been considered as one of the main factors hampering compliance and enforcement, specifically for what concerns the Laying Hens Directive, the Pigs Directive and the Calves Directive 153 . From the Commission’s report on the overall application of official controls carried out in Member States (2019-2020), it follows that most EU countries have difficulties in demonstrating the level of, or trends in, compliance regarding animal welfare, due to the absence of specific objectives and defined indicators to monitor 154 . Some Member States, such as for instance the Netherlands, are developing measurable performance criteria for checking animal welfare, for instance when carrying out dairy farm inspections 155 . But still, there is a lack of harmonised criteria and indicators, which undermines the capability of competent authorities to identify cases in which animals are not sufficiently protected and to take measures to ensure a high animal welfare.

The obligation for competent authorities to monitor implementation has been introduced relatively recently. They are provided by the EU rules on official controls. In addition, Article 32 of the Transport Regulation requires the Commission to present a report to the European Parliament and the Council on the impact of that Regulation. Similarly, Article 6(2) of the Broilers Directive contains an obligation for the Commission to submit a report on the application of that Directive 156 . Other than that, no proper monitoring framework with indication of clear indicators has been established at the time of adoption of the existing texts. 

One important source of information is the (more than 150) reports from the audits and fact-finding missions performed by the Commission, primarily in the Member States, which has formed the basis of a series of overview reports. For instance, those reports show that the Netherlands has an advanced system to verify compliance with the Laying Hens Directive, combining targeted inspections with information from a quality scheme and cross-checking data from various sources, which allows to the competent authorities to establish baselines and see trends 157 .

While enforcement procedures are in place, both in Member States and at EU level, ‘variations in enforcement undermine progress towards uniformly high standards across the EU’ 158 . The fact that such high level of enforcement has not been reached in all Member States, leads to differences in compliance with the EU animal welfare legislation, which is harming the level playing field for transport companies 159 . This also reflected in interviews, where several stakeholders mentioned that the legislation has not been effectively enforced across the Member States (hence a need for the Commission to take infringement actions), e.g. as regards animal transports.

It follows from the targeted survey that the majority of responding Member States consider that the current rules are difficult to enforce (in particular as regards animal welfare at farm level and during transport) 160 . Also, according to feedback received on the Fitness Check roadmap , there is a need to better coordinate competent authorities’ controls at the European level. As regards animal transport, the Member States' authorities and the Commission do not have IT systems or software to readily monitor the route, temperature or driving hours of vehicles transporting animals. Certain transport related data is made available to the competent authorities through TRACES, which contains the results of official checks. However, TRACES has certain access and design restrictions which make it difficult to get an overview of the general situation regarding transport of animals for export, to identify the most risky situations and to target the controls more effectively 161 .

In 2011, EFSA made recommendations to develop better tools for monitoring of animal welfare during transport, such as:

-“On the navigation systems, temperature monitoring systems should be incorporated.

-Minimum standards should be established regarding data type to be recorded, the system and the on-board architecture” 162

Moreover, EFSA concluded that documentation and manual monitoring in the journey logs are ‘often incomplete and/or not returned to the competent authority of departure to allow for verifying compliance’ 163

Similarly, in 2013, EFSA published four scientific opinions on the welfare of cattle, pigs, sheep and goats, and poultry during the slaughter process 164 . The opinions proposed practical means of complying with the requirement of monitoring indicators and using sampling protocols in slaughterhouses.

However, none of these EFSA recommendations have been reflected in the EU legislation so far.

It may be assumed that this lack of monitoring tools has a negative impact on compliance and enforcement. Inadequate enforcement, in turn, has additional negative impacts on compliance, as there may be economic incentives for operators not to comply with some provisions, like in the case of transport of unfit animals (where having to dispose of an animal as fallen stock could entail a cost of around 500 euro) 165 . Consequently, the lack of monitoring has a negative impact on animal welfare and the competition among EU food business operators 166 .

Training and competences

Since the competence of people handling animals is important to ensure animal welfare 167 168 169 170 171 , the current EU animal welfare legislation introduced several new training requirements.

EU law requires formal training for the pig and broiler sectors, and (more detailed and demanding, e.g. by requiring certificates) in the transport and slaughter sectors, which has implications for farmers and workers on 317,920 pig farms and some 23,360 large broiler farms, 2,721 companies transporting animals between Member States, with many more transporters operating domestically, and staff in slaughterhouses killing some 360 million mammals and several billion poultry every year 172 . However, the method of training or length of the courses is not specified in any EU legislation, and there are great variations between the Member States 173 .

Despite the high level of training on animal welfare for slaughterhouse staff (due to previous national licensing requirements) prior the Killing Regulation, its  impact assessment identified as specific problem “the insufficient competence of personnel handling animals”. Thanks to the Killing Regulation the requirements for training were more consistent and demanding across all slaughterhouses after 2013 174 , resulting in reduced stress and injuries amongst the animals 175 . In addition, training has supported the practical implementation of the Killing Regulation and increased the technical competence of the slaughterhouse personnel, which had a positive impact on the animals’ welfare to some extent 176 .

Various livestock sectors find training on animal behaviour very beneficial not only to avoid animal welfare problems, but also ‘to improve production, avoid mutilations and reduce the use of medicines’ 177 . Moreover, training courses help to establish high standards and pride in work 178 .

Also, one of the most widely mentioned positive impact of the implementation of the Broilers Directive are the training provisions, according to surveyed competent authorities. In 2017, only three Member States appeared to not offer adequate training courses. This was an improvement on the situation pre-implementation 179 . Training courses in countries such as Spain, Italy, and Ireland have been mentioned as ‘key contributors to improving practices’ at farm-level 180 . In Denmark, in the broiler sector, keepers were trained and found a better understanding of stress particularly useful 181 .

The fact that all drivers have to hold certificates of appropriate training courses is an important improvement of the Transport Regulation compared to the former Directive of 1991 182 , as it helps to ensure animal welfare competence. Similarly, the Killing Regulation requires that certain slaughter operations may only be carried out by persons holding a certificate of competence for such operations 183 .

Expectation

Objective

(key requirements)

Indicators

Outcome
(level of success, maximum: 5 +)

Improve the competence by animal handlers.

Require training and competence of people handling animals at farms, during transport and in slaughterhouses.

The level of trainings provided by the Member States and the methods and procedures of certifications.

 

++++ (harmonisation missing, in particular at farm level)

Although it is mandatory in the EU for pig and broiler producers to take part in animal welfare training, not all farmers do. A study on education and information activities on animal welfare, commissioned by the Commission and concluded in 2016, showed differences between the Member States with regards to the percentage of professionals trained as well as the quality of information on legislation received during the training courses 184 .

According to the study, while a high percentage of farmers, lorry drivers and slaughterhouse personnel had received up to date information on animal welfare (with the exception of lorry drivers in Spain and slaughterhouse personnel in Greece and Spain), many showed poor knowledge of EU animal welfare legislation associated with their professions. Furthermore, the study identified a lack of harmonisation in training activities for professionals and a lack of consistent assessment of the validity and efficiency of the certifications awarded at the end of the trainings.

Still, evidence points to a need for further training. For instance, in 2017, one-third (35%) of Danish livestock drivers had doubts regarding the fitness for transport of specific cows 'at least frequently', and only half of them could answer questions about fitness for transport correctly’ 185 . Also, according to EFSA, the lack of appropriate skills among the staff is the origin of most (29 out of 30) animal welfare hazards that occur during slaughter, mainly in relation with stunning and bleeding 186

This is confirmed by the evaluation of the EU Animal Welfare Strategy (2012-2015), concluded in 2021, according to which the need for continued training and education of personnel working with animals remains highly relevant 187 . This is also supported by a survey of Chief Veterinary Officers under the Finnish Presidency of the EU, where both the attitude and insufficient knowledge of operators and farmers were highlighted as the main reasons for lack of compliance. 

4.1.2    Efficiency

Costs

A cost-benefit study was performed in 2021-2022 to assess the costs and benefits of the EU animal welfare legislation for businesses, consumers and public authorities, regarding the dimensions animal welfare, environment and public health.

Due to limited data availability, hypothetical scenarios had to be established in order to approximate absolute values for changes in production costs. These hypothetical scenarios might not correspond to the real developments. They represent the best estimates that could be made based on several assumptions derived from the limited available literature 188 .

The study shows that a direct costs of compliance with the EU animal welfare legislation occurred for businesses and public administrations. To note is that there is no evidence on the costs of implementing the Farm Directive, since its provisions are too generally formulated 189 .

In terms of economic importance, only costs of compliance for businesses and administrative/enforcement costs of public authorities could be monetised 190 . Even though the available evidence does not allow to provide a full picture of costs incurred by concerned stakeholder groups in relation to the legislative requirements in place, it helps assessing the economic importance of the legislations for the different stages of the production process. For instance, according to the study’s estimations, the direct costs of compliance account to about:

-404,9 million EUR per year (i.e. 1,47% of an annual average pig production value) for the Pigs Directive.

-35,8 million EUR per year (i.e. 0,26% of an annual average broiler meat production value) for the Broiler Directive.

-Between 23 million EUR and 49 million EUR per year (i.e. less than 0,11% of an annual average production value for the slaughterhouses) for the Killing Regulation.

The cost items that are included in direct compliance costs only include adjustment costs, as no charges or administrative costs for businesses could be found in the literature used in the CBA study 191 . A distinction has been made between “recurrent” costs (estimated to 40% of the total costs) and “one-off” costs, the latter being costs related to provision that require a conversion of housing systems. In the case of the Pigs Directive, the one-off costs for farmers are estimated to 157,6 million euro, while their recurrent costs amount to 247,3 million euro per year. In the case of the Laying Hens Directive, the recurrent annual costs for farmers is estimated to 152 million euro, while the one-off costs amount to 440 million euro per year 192 .

These values have to be taken with utmost care, as they are based on average annual values, contain many assumptions, and are only one snapshot in time. Nevertheless, they show that the cost burden of improving animal welfare differed considerably between the different actors in the production process. 

Clearly, the EU animal welfare legislation has led to increased costs and additional administrative burden. These costs are mainly borne by the farmers. For example, an interviewed organisation representing farmers has estimated that the Pigs Directive entailed an average cost of 300-350 euro per sow.

However, the situation as regards compliance costs differs considerably between the Member States. Not only are there differences in the implementation of common requirements, but some countries have more stringent rules which also must be complied with by those who want to operate on their markets.

In addition, costs are also stemming from other policy areas, such as environmental requirements. For instance, one interviewed organisation representing the meat trading industry estimates that the EU’s Nitrate Directive (which prohibits the use of animal manure beyond a certain amount, which implies buying chemical fertilizers and using more soil) leads to an additional cost of 5 cent per pig kilo alive weight.

For farmers, the costs of compliance with the EU animal welfare legislation stem from infrastructural and/or equipment adaptations/substitutions, reduction of stocking densities, extra materials (e.g. feed), labour (e.g. need for extra staff, training), administration (e.g. paperwork and record-keeping), transaction costs (e.g. information gathering on legislation; coordination with other farming activities and legislations). According to the CBA study 193 , the main compliance costs for pig farmers are related to manipulable materials for weaners and rearing pigs, while for poultry farmers, the largest compliance costs were related to the ban on unenriched cages for laying hens. The Pigs Directive, the Laying Hens Directive and the Calves Directive (although only for veal production) implied structural changes (ban of gestation and veal crates, ban of unenriched cages) 194

The Broilers Directive implied a fundamental change in the principle of animal welfare regulation by introducing the systematic monitoring of animal-based indicators at slaughterhouses but cost estimates for this particular provision are scarce and the available studies suggest that costs might have been limited. At the farm level, the Broilers Directive led to mostly incremental changes 195 . According to one interviewed pan-European organisation representing the poultry sector, the production costs per kilo of live bird have increased by 2-3% due to the reduction in stocking densities required by the Broilers Directive.

In 2010, the additional cost imposed on the livestock sector by the EU animal welfare standards were estimated at around 2% of the overall output of this sector, most of which derived from the transport sector 196 197 .

For animal transports, the main compliance costs are the recurrent costs related to the drawing up and keeping of transport and planning information. Due to lack of data, for the Transport Regulation, no percentage of compliance costs in relation to economic importance could be estimated in the cost-benefit study. In a study from 2010, however, the Transport Regulation was estimated to impose costs as high as 1 726 million euro annually 198 . The available limited evidence suggests that costs to public authorities (inspection costs) have increased in the range of 5 % to 15 % due to the Transport Regulation 199 . According to a study from 2011, the Transport Regulation increased the administrative costs for Member States’ competent authorities as well as for transport companies. While no reliable evidence was available on the additional administrative costs for the authorities, they were estimated to 25 euro per journey, 515 euro for transporter authorisation and 26 euro per certificate of approval for a vehicle. Since these costs were mainly labour costs, they differed between Member States 200 .

Although considerable savings of administrative cost for transport operators are conceivable through the use of digital tools, this potential seems largely unused up to date 201 . It has been suggested that an online database for registration of transport of animals could yield cost savings of 627 million euro 202 . The use such a system would also allow collecting reliable data on the state of compliance of operators in the Union and allow addressing enforcement weaknesses in a more efficient way, compared to today’s system which is mainly paper based. 203 . The potential of potential of digitalisation as a tool for reducing burdens also for farmers and slaughterhouse operators as well as competent authorities could be further explored.

For slaughterhouses’ costs of compliance, there is very little evidence, but the main inspection costs for the competent authorities to verify compliance with the Killing Regulation are due to the setting up of national reference networks and the certification of its staff (the latter partially recovered from slaughterhouses via fees) 204 . Costs due to the Killing Regulation are considered limited compared to the output of the sector 205 . However, the waterbath stunning electrical parameters that ensure effective stunning are associated with more haemorrhages and therefore less revenues for the operator. There can thus be a trade-off between animal welfare and economics. 206 .



The EU animal welfare legislation contains several exemptions of relevance for small and medium sized companies (SMEs). In addition to the exemption from the Laying Hens Directive and the Broilers Directive for smaller holdings, described in footnote 22, the Transport Regulation only partially applies to the transport of animals carried out by farmers themselves. And the Killing Regulation exempts e.g. small slaughterhouses from the requirement of having an animal welfare officer.

It follows from the recent study on CAP Measures and Instruments Promoting Animal Welfare and Reduction of Antimicrobials Use that it is difficult to state that introducing new animal welfare requirements for pigs and laying hens have had any effect on the size of farms 207 . This seems to suggest that the negative impact on SMEs, at least in those sectors, has been very limited.

However, as explained above, evidence from Commission audits in the Member States suggest that certain provisions in the Killing Regulation are disproportionally burdensome for smaller slaughterhouses. Areas for simplification were identified in the targeted survey (the main one being rules on monitoring and registration, suggested by 24%, or 10 out of 41, of the respondents). However, the majority of respondents (54% - 22 out of 41) did not consider that the Killing Regulation could be simplified for SMEs without compromising the standards of animal welfare. And while a vast majority of business organisations responding to the public consultation (65% - 428 out of 660) consider that the current EU animal welfare rules are disproportionally burdensome and/or costly for SMEs, that view was only shared by 30% (25 out of 83) of the public authorities and 16% (8 624 out of 54 611) of the EU citizens.

In order to reduce costs and administrative burden, the Killing Regulation exempts workers who have three years’ experience from its training requirements. However, some of its other provisions, such as the requirement of recording the electrical parameters for head only stunning, could be considered as unpractical and disproportionate for small slaughterhouses, where staff is limited 208 .

Concerning animal welfare related inspection costs more in general (for which fees may be collected), in the targeted survey Member States indicated that the requirements most costly to enforce for competent authorities are those related to administration (21% - 3 out of 14) and to infrastructure (14% - 2 out of 14).

 

Benefits

While many potential benefits for the animals, consumers, the environment or public health could be identified and linked to the implementation of the current legislation, due to lack of animal-related indicators, or clear evidence on what had been achieved in practice, these benefits may not be quantified and safely attributed to the change in animal welfare legislation 209

Still, evidence suggests that an improved welfare of animals, to which the EU legislation contributes, has ethical benefits, but also brings several other (economic, social) benefits for farmers, such as higher productivity 210 and product quality 211 , (savings due to) lower use of antibiotics and lower incidence of injuries and chronic diseases (such as mastitis). Further benefits include enhanced ecosystems services, reduced green gas emissions, better public health (less incidence and spread of animal-born diseases and antimicrobial resistance 212 ), better working experience for staff (job satisfaction 213 , pride, work safety 214 ), and improved sectoral image 215 .

For instance, one interviewed industry organisation estimates that the Pigs Directive has increased the yield of pig production by 1% and considers that there has also been an increased job satisfaction and work safety for farmers. According to one interviewed industry organisation, higher meat quality has led to 5 % increase in sales volumes for pig meat.

Costs versus benefits

In the targeted survey, around a third of the respondents could not provide an answer on whether the costs of compliance with the EU animal welfare legislation are outweighed by the benefits. Of those that did reply, a majority considered that the benefits for slaughterhouses (54% - 13 out of 24) and retailers (67% - 16 out of 24) outweigh the costs. For farmers and transporters the opinions are more split, with somewhat less than half of the respondents considering that the benefits outweigh the costs.

In the public consultation, a vast majority (72% - 476 out of 660) of the companies/business organisations and business associations who responded to the public consultation believed that abiding by (certain) animal welfare requirements set in EU rules are (too) burdensome and costly for producers (e.g. farmers).

These costs should also be seen in relation to the costs of non-compliance. An interviewed consumers’ organisation considers that the benefits of the EU animal welfare legislation is higher than the costs, since the negative impacts on non-compliance are also costly and should not be underestimated. For instance, meat rejections in slaughterhouses due to bad animal welfare (resulting e.g. in skin lesions, bruises or abscess in limbs or defect in meat maturation – PSE/DFD meat) is estimated to represent 43% of the profit margin for the producers and poses a serious threat to the viability of pig farms in Ireland 216 .

It follows from the cost-benefit study that, since consumers frequently emphasise that animal welfare is of high importance, any legislative improvement in animal welfare may be considered beneficial for them. However, studies also show that consumers do not consider the current level to be sufficient. Hence, consumers’ actual benefits from the studied legislative changes are likely rather limited 217 .

Interviewed industry organisations jointly consider that, while the consumers’ interest for animal welfare has increased in later years, the market return is still not sufficient to recover investments made in animal welfare (because consumers are not aware of the standards under which their food is produced, and that price is the most important factor for their food choices) 218 . According to an interviewed pan-European organisation representing farmers, the costs of compliance with current EU animal welfare requirements has resulted in an increase in consumer prices of 1,0% or 1,2%.

It should be noted, though, that the situation is different in different Member States. For example, regarding commercial rabbit farming, market demands have been the driver behind the development of different production methods. The Netherlands and Hungary use cage-free system, in spite of this not being a legal requirement in their country, as a way to access external markets that demand higher animal welfare during production (e.g. Belgium, Germany and Switzerland) 219 .

Stakeholders concerns for a lack of market return were also identified in the impact assessment for the EU Animal Welfare Strategy in 2012. However, according to the recently published study on animal welfare labelling, there is evidence that consumers are willing, up to a certain extent, to pay a higher price for animal welfare compared to a standard product, and that their willingness to pay may be maximised through an information campaign, combined with animal welfare labelling 220 .

Furthermore, while the effects of animal welfare requirements are indeed not easily quantifiable or translated financially 221 , it has been suggested that the socioeconomic impact of the EU animal welfare legislation seems limited and/or has been compensated in medium/long term 222 . It has also been suggested, although evidence collected is limited, that the costs of implementing the animal welfare legislation were, in general, justified given the positive impacts they had 223 .

This seems to be confirmed by the CBA study, whose overall assessment is positive, 224 , and by the recent CAP study according to which the implementation of new animal welfare requirements did not impact the economic viability of laying hen and pig farms 225 . In fact, the EU animal welfare legislation seems to have a very limited effect on the competitiveness of EU food business operators. Instead, differences in production costs seem mainly driven by “productivity, land and labour cost and feed price” 226 . Hence, it would seem that the objective to ensure the viability of the food production system has been achieved. 

4.1.3        Coherence

Under the coherence criterion, it has been assessed whether/to what extent the different components of the legislation operate well together to achieve the given objectives (internal coherence). The assessment allows identifying synergies and complementarities which increases effectiveness; or contradictions which affect the way the policy area delivers. It has also been explored whether the animal welfare legislation is coherent with other relevant EU legislation, relevant initiatives taken in third countries and international organisations (external coherence).

4.1.3.1 Internal coherence

Overall, evidence suggests that the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals is coherent 227 228 . The various components of EU animal welfare legislation are broadly complementary, mutually supporting and consistent. There is limited evidence of incoherence in and between EU Directives and Regulations on animal welfare 229 .

However, in the targeted survey, only around half (49 %, or 20 out of 41) of all respondents replied that the provisions contained in current EU animal welfare legislation are consistent with each other and that there are synergies between the different areas of welfare.

230 231 Some inconsistencies are also mentioned in the literature, namely the mismatch between legislative intents and concrete practices and between certain legal requirements and the effective welfare of animals. For example, according to the Pigs Directive, pigs must be allowed to express their exploratory behaviour and have access to an environment meeting their physical activity needs. Yet, the directive allows confinement in individual cages for certain categories of animals. Other examples of cases where general animal welfare principles of avoiding pain and suffering conflict with the specific legislation are the mutilations of pigs (castration, tooth grinding, etc., all of this without anaesthesia).

Another example is the Farm Directive. It states that 'no animal shall be kept for farming purposes unless it can reasonably be expected, on the basis of its genotype or phenotype, that it can be kept without detrimental effect on its health or welfare'. Despite this, many genotypes and phenotypes have been selected which have negative welfare consequences, such as laying hens with a high rate of keel-bone fractures because they are too small compared to their eggs and lay too early 232 .

These inconsistencies show the inherent tension between animal welfare principles and their practical implementation. This tension is mainly due to a compromise between societal expectations and business operators’ interests, which varies overtime.

4.1.3.2 External coherence

While no major conflicts with other EU policies have been identified, evidence demonstrates certain tensions and differences 233 , which are further elaborated upon below. In particular, stakeholders advocated for a better integration between animal welfare legislation and international trade policy, aquaculture policy and agriculture policy 234 . Also, in the targeted survey, only 12% (5 out of 41) of stakeholders agreed that the current EU animal welfare legislation is consistent with other EU policy areas.

EU animal health legislation 235 recognises the link between animal health and animal welfare. The rules designed to prevent and control animal diseases are to be implemented by taking into account animal welfare (including the sparing of any avoidable pain, distress or suffering).

The fact that the EU animal welfare and animal health legislations were developed in a coherent and complementary way can be illustrated by the provisions on depopulation of the Killing Regulation. These ensure that, when a group of animals are culled for animal health reasons (due to an outbreak of a contagious disease), this is done in respect of animal welfare rules. In addition, the protection of animal health is also one of the objectives of the Transport Regulation and potential tensions have been directly solved by the legislator (see e.g. recital 13 on specific measures safeguarding the health and welfare of animals when resting at control posts, to avoid the spreading of contagious diseases).

Some representatives of national farmers’ organisations for the pig and poultry sectors have argued that there were certain tensions. For instance, it was claimed that enrichment material for pigs such as straw or wood would pose some African Swine Fever or contamination risk from wild boars, or phasing out cages would bring more risk from the point of view of Avian Influenza. However, this is not supported by evidence as these welfare requirements can be easily combined with the necessary biosecurity measures. For examples, no increases in influenza outbreaks have been observed in poultry farms with alternative systems (i.e. without cages) compared to farms using enriched cages (i.e. in case of avian influenza outbreak, free range and organic hens have to be kept indoor in line with biosecurity measures). And, as pointed out by an interviewed pan-European organisation representing veterinarians, biosecurity measures are taken in a particular situation, in which such procedure is normal, and cannot be considered as an inconsistency per se.

The EU animal welfare legislation is broadly coherent with the EU animal health legislation 236 . Even though some stakeholders called for greater integration 237 , evidence suggests that the areas of current EU animal welfare legislation where cages are banned (i.e. for a large part of pigs and calves’ lives) consistently complemented animal health rules.

Regarding transport, the social regulation for drivers provides 238 for resting times for drivers that are different from those provided for animals in the Transport Regulation. These requirement are difficult and costly to reconcile 239 . For the sake of the animals, the length of the journey should be minimised, while drivers need to rest and sleep. According to Regulation (EC) No 561/2006, the daily driving time may not exceed 9 hours, but may be extended to maximum 10 hours not more than twice during the week. On the other side, the Transport Regulation allows transporting animals for long journeys under certain conditions – up to 19 hours for young animals, 24 hours for horses and pigs and 29 hours for adult bovines. Therefore, while these provisions are legally compatible with each other, the requirement to minimise the animals’ journey implies that there should be more than one driver for journeys of more than 9 hours, which generates additional costs. This is an area where a higher level of coherence is expected by stakeholders, including NGO’s. 240   241

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) provides a number of measures and instruments with a potential effect on animal welfare such as: 1) the cross compliance scheme 242 , 2) the marketing standards for egg production, 3) the rural development legislation which has specific animal welfare related measures and financial instruments, and 4) the rules on organic farming 243

To some extent, in the 2014-2020 period, the CAP instruments and measures contributed to Member State promotion of animal welfare, depending on the implementation choices. In particular, specific rural development measures for animal welfare was the most effective for improving animal welfare as it could be used to foster a set of coherent practices (involving housing conditions, feeding, enhancement of natural behaviour and/or health management practices) 244 . As for the marketing standards for eggs, the rules for indicating the farming methods applied for laying hens (Regulation (EC) No 589/2008), have to some extent contributed in promoting animal welfare friendly production methods for eggs, and alternative uses of egg production in the EU. 245   246   247

In most Member States/regions studied, the cross-compliance scheme was effective in influencing farmers’ practices, especially in Member States and regions where animal farms do not yet fully meet the requirements of the EU directives on animal welfare.

As a whole, the CAP appears to have helped improve animal welfare locally, in specific sectors and/or Member States and regions, depending on the implementation choices. However, the overall effect is not significant, as only a limited number of successful cases were identified. And while the CAP instruments and measures have the ability to contribute to animal welfare, the extent to which this has been the case varies across the EU depending on Member States’ and Regions’ implementation choices for direct payments and rural development programmes. Member States having stricter national rules than EU ones (Denmark, the Netherland, Austria, Finland and Sweden) tended to make more use of these instruments to reach animal welfare objectives 248 .

Many animal welfare problems are linked to highly intensive farming systems. However, the sectors that use the most intensive farming systems (pigs, poultry, rabbits, and to a certain extent dairy cows) are usually not the main beneficiaries of the CAP measures. These sectors are not sufficiently addressed by the CAP measures targeting welfare aspects 249

Animal welfare issues can arise from intensive indoor production systems. i.e. systems with animals in high stocking density, when increased pressures on animals are not managed properly (unbalanced diet, use of rapid-growth breeds, use of antimicrobial group treatments, inappropriate flooring and manure management, mutilations, etc.). Such intensive indoor systems are often not subject to cross-compliance as they are not eligible to direct payments. 250

As concluded in the evaluation of the EU Animal Welfare Strategy (2012-2015), there is a clear need to further optimise synergies with the CAP for the period 2021-27 and to make better use of the instruments offered by it to strengthen CAP beneficiaries’ awareness on animal welfare requirements, to improve animal welfare standards in animal husbandry, and to mainstream them into the regulatory framework governing agricultural activities 251 .

In other words, the challenges identified in improving animal welfare are not always targeted by Member States with CAP instruments/measures. This is reflected in views expressed by interviewed NGO’s, who consider that the available subsidies under the CAP have not been fully exploited by Member States to take some of the economic burden off from producers 252 . In the targeted survey, only 9% (1 out of 11) of the business and professional organisations, and 14% (2 out of 14) of Member States, consider that there are inconsistencies between the EU animal welfare legislation and agricultural policy 253

The relationship between animal welfare and EU environmental policy (as part of a sustainable food system, addressed in the European Green Deal ), is complex. Literature suggests that EU animal welfare legislation has in general avoided conflict with environmental policy 254 . However, at a time when reducing greenhouse gas emissions is becoming a major challenge 255 , it is necessary to further reinforce the relationship between animal welfare and the environment to contribute even more to a sustainable food production system.

Farmers and competent authorities seem to disagree on the extent to which the animal welfare legislation is coherent with environmental policy for instance as regards carbon and other emissions and their negative impact on climate and the environment 256

However, there are areas in which animal welfare and environmental protection go hand in hand, for instance with ‘open range, pasture based systems supporting reduction in ammonia and contributing to biodiversity’ 257 258 259 .

Furthermore, lower density production systems, such as the organic laying hen systems, are overall consistent with environmental policies, despite some tensions concerning the land use 260 . If properly managed, livestock production contributes to enhanced ecosystems services, improved soil health and less air and water pollution 261 . Notably, animal housing and in-house manure management aspects offer synergy opportunities for animal welfare and air pollution reduction measures (ammonia, methane). Stricter animal welfare rules with regard to reduced livestock density, increased access to outdoor/grazing time, manure management/cleanliness requirements and indoor air quality requirements will have positive impact not only on the welfare of livestock but also contribute to the clean air objectives and reduced air pollution impact on human health and the environment.

No conclusive evidence has been found for synergies between the environmental policy and the EU animal welfare legislation on the transport and killing of animals. However, a point of complementarity has been suggested, linked to the issue of short versus extended supply chains since the Transport Regulation requires that animals’ journey times are as short as possible 262 .

If improved animal welfare standards appear to conflict with environmental objectives, it is mainly based on the assumption that consumption of animal products would remain unchanged. It is, however clear that a transition to more sustainable food systems cannot be envisaged without changes in food consumption partners.

As for the EU trade policy, unlike health standards, EU animal welfare standards do not apply systematically to imported products. Animal welfare measures are considered to be non-product related process and production methods. Under the WTO rules, it is only possible to apply non-product related process and production methods to imports subject to certain conditions. In particular the measures must be non-discriminatory and necessary to achieve a legitimate objective 263 . The case-law has confirmed that an animal welfare-related ban on import of certain products (namely seal products) could fall under the public morals exemption in the GATT (Article XX a).

EU animal welfare standards are among the highest in the world 264 , but only EU standards at the time of slaughter 265 apply to imported products. Meat imported into the EU has to come from animals slaughtered under conditions equivalent to those prescribed in the Killing Regulation. The animal welfare requirements are incorporated into the import certificates and the veterinary authority of the country of origin has to certify them together with the animal and public health requirements 266 . There are instruments to ensure the compliance with this requirement, in particular the Commission’s audits in third countries exporting to the EU. During the period 2017-2021, 21 such audits took place. Recommendations pertaining animal welfare were made in 42% (9 out of 21) of the above audits, showing the Commission’s commitment on this matter. Those being the only applicable standards to imported products, there is room for a greater integration between EU animal welfare rules and the EU trade policy.

So far, in bilateral trade negotiations, the EU has chosen to promote enhanced cooperation with trade partners rather than using unilateral measures. Provisions on cooperation on animal welfare have been included in the following agreements: EU-Chile (2002)  267 , EU-Korea (2011)  268 , EU-Co-Ec-Pe (2012) 269 , EU-Central America (2012)  270 , EU-Canada CETA (2017)  271 , EU-Japan EPA (2019)  272 , EU-Singapore (2019)  273 , EU-Mexico (2020)  274  and EU-New Zealand (2022) 275 .

Since the EU-Chile agreement provided for a working plan to develop animal welfare norms of interest of the Parties, Chile developed its national legislation in line with the EU (Animal protection law, Regulation on protection of the animals during transport, Regulation on animal protection during the slaughter, Regulation on animal protection at intensive production, marketing and in other place of holding animals). Furthermore, the future EU-Mercosur agreement, EU-Chile modernised agreement and the revision of the EU-Mexico trade agreement will recognise that animals are sentient beings, which a first step towards improving animal welfare.

The EU has association agreements with Eastern European countries such as Georgia 276 , Moldova 277   and Ukraine 278 , which contain ‘approximation’ articles by which the countries commit to approximate/align their legislation on SPS (including animal welfare) to that of the EU. This means that these countries are expected to approximate to the full EU acquis on animal welfare including for their domestic production and exports to other parts of the world.

More recently, and for the first time, the EU made tariff liberalisation conditional to compliance with EU standards; in the concluded but not yet ratified EU-Mercosur trade agreement, duty free access for certain categories of eggs has been granted to Mercosur countries subject to compliance with EU rules on the welfare of laying hens, in particular the requirement of enriched cages.

Despite the costs imposed on EU producers (see section 4.1.2), animal welfare standards appear to have had only a limited impact on the competitiveness of EU producers on the EU market taking into account existing import requirements (differences in production costs seem mainly driven by productivity, land and labour cost and feed price, rather than by animal welfare requirements) 279 . However, for eggs and egg products, there is some evidence suggesting that the differences in animal welfare standards could cause trade diversion and product relocation 280 . As for the trade of live animals, the Transport Regulation does not seem to have had any significate impact. TRACES data show that the historic trend of increasing international trade of live animals continued after the implementation of the Transport Regulation 281 .

The EU has inspired and supported the creation and implementation of the OIE standards and recommendations on animal welfare 282   283 . The EU animal welfare legislation is mostly, but not entirely in line with these standards and recommendations. For instance, in the case of animal transport, EU requirements are stricter and more detailed (on space allowances, maximum journey times, resting times, resting facilities, additional standards for vehicles, standard for livestock vessels, etc.). On the contrary, concerning fish welfare, the OIE standards on stunning and killing of farmed fish for human consumption are sometimes stricter than the EU requirements 284 .

Evidence suggest that EU activities carried out with international organisations such as the OIE have promoted the EU model on animal welfare in a high number of non-EU countries, and that bilateral cooperation has improved the welfare conditions of farmed animals in some non-EU countries and facilitated the implementation of EU import requirements on animal welfare standards at the time of killing 285 .

4.2        How did the EU intervention make a difference?

Evidence from literature and stakeholder interviews suggest that the EU is the right level of intervention and objectives could not reasonably be better achieved at national level 286 . For instance, in relation to welfare of laying hens, the technical and scientific experience from Sweden on enriched cages could be disseminated to all Member States thanks to the intervention at EU level by adopting the Laying Hens Directive 287

According to one of the professional organisations interviewed, EU animal welfare legislation has contributed to the protection of farmed animals and a better functioning of the EU market ‘because if the EU would have not stepped in, every country would have its own legislation’. And some Member States may not have adopted legislation at all, for instance to protect the welfare of calves.

This would have reasonably resulted in distortions of competition and unequal levels of welfare 288 . The EU animal welfare legislation is considered to have served as a “safeguard” against negative developments that could have occurred over time if the legislation had not been adopted 289 . The EU legislation has provided a certain level of harmonisation between Member States and therefore contributed to more equal conditions for operators, leading to some convergence across the EU in increasing animal welfare in a comparable manner.

Moreover, stakeholders at the EU level and at the national level agreed that the EU Directives on welfare at farm level (and in particular the species-specific Directives) ‘have provided the drive to progress on a range of issues that many Member States  lacked individually’ 290 in particular because the political incentives were missing at national level. For instance, one interviewed pan-European producers’ organisation expressed the following: “Harmonising the legislation is a positive measure for farmers because all operators know that they are not alone, they all operate under the same rules and that prices are the same for all, regardless of the Member States they are established in”.

Interviews with representatives from national authorities suggest that, although certain Member States support possible changes to the legislation to increase animal welfare on-farm, they would not act on their own. Stakeholders agreed that the Directives have added value by providing a common framework for the improvement of animal welfare. Yet, additional efforts are needed to handle divergences in implementation and consumer demands on animal welfare in the EU. 291

The evaluation and the impact assessment of the 2012 Animal Welfare Strategy also indicate that the EU level is the appropriate level for action. Coordination action creates synergy gains, which increases effectiveness and efficiency. 292

An Implementation Assessment carried out in 2018 on the Transport Regulation 293  concluded that the EU added value of the Regulation is somehow implicit due to the fact that ‘trade with live animals within and outside the EU would be difficult in the absence of common rules and standards as regards animal transport’ 294 . Indeed, trade of live animals within the EU would be almost impossible if all Member States had their own rules regarding the transport of live animals.

Concerning proportionality and subsidiarity, it can be argued that EU actions in the area of animal welfare do not go beyond of what is necessary to achieve the objectives of the Treaties 295 , which recognize animals as sentient being and require this to be taken into account when formulating EU policies in the area of agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development and space policies 296 .

The current EU animal welfare legislation is setting minimum requirements and allows Member States to adopt or maintain national provisions going beyond the common rules.. While some Member States have adopted such national legislation, this is limited to a minority of Member States (e.g. Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany) whose citizens express higher expectations on animal welfare. The large majority of Member States does not go beyond EU rules.

In the case of the Regulations on killing and transport, the areas where Member States can go beyond EU rules are limited (and framed by EU legislation). Therefore EU legislation clearly has the highest added value for those Member States not going beyond EU legislation, but also for the ones going beyond, as it ensures a minimum level of standards and a basis for the internal market.

4.3        Is the intervention relevant?

The current EU animal welfare legislation was an appropriate response to the animal welfare needs and challenges at the time of its adoption, based on the best available science at the time 297 . The key problems and drivers identified were largely addressed but despite the progress made most of these problems and drivers remain relevant today.

4.3.1    What are the current needs, interests and expectations of stakeholders and to what extent does the current EU animal welfare legislation address them?

4.3.1.1        Farmers and other business operators

It has emerged from interviews with farmers and food business organisations that animal welfare has become an important business factor for producers and that needs and consumer expectations in this specific realm have evolved during the last ten years. The mushrooming of different animal welfare labelling schemes in many Member States in the last ten years is a reflection of this 298 . Still, the expectations of farmers and other business operators to get a sufficient return on the animal welfare investments are not always met. 

Interviewed business organisations consider appropriate that standards currently applied to EU businesses should also be applied and demanded from third country operators, and that more information should be provided to consumers about the high level of existing standards. There is also an expectation that the EU animal welfare legislation should be modified to employ scientifically and objectively verifiable criteria, the implementation of which is easy to monitor e.g. using clear indicators, and relatively stable over time (as a certain level of foreseeability is required for investments in animal welfare, also considering the depreciation periods for such investments).

4.3.1.2        Citizens and consumers

Citizens pay increasing attention to animal welfare in the EU 299 , notably in western Member States 300 . This is reflected in the rise of political movements concerning the protection of the environment and animal welfare. For example, in October 2002, an Animal Welfare Party was established in the Netherlands. In August 2020, the first Danish Vegan party was created 301 . Animal welfare was added to the German Constitution as a national objective, in 2002. And in 2022, the protection of animals was made part of the Italian Constitution

Consumers’ behaviours and expectations changed over time, leading to greater awareness overall and hence a greater commitment to act to make improvements in the area of animal welfare 302 . The Community Action Plan on the protection and welfare of animals (2006-2010) 303 states that there has been a ‘clear shift of public attitudes towards animals over recent decades’ 304 . This is also reflected in the evaluation of the EU Animal Welfare Strategy (2012-2015), performed in 2021 305 .

A clear and strong reflection of societal concerns about insufficient protection of animal welfare is the European Citizens’ Initiative called ‘End the Cage Age’, which gathered almost 1.4 million signatures, and to which the Commission responded positively on 30th June 2021 306 and committed to propose legislation to phase-out the use of stalls and cages for the species covered by the initiative.

The Eurobarometer surveys on the ‘Attitudes of EU citizens towards Animal Welfare’ show that consumer awareness and citizens’ interest in animal welfare have increased from 2006 to 2016. A shift in opinion was observed from those who “probably” believe animal protection should be better, to “certainly” (in 14 Member States, there are increases of more than 5%)” 307   308 .

Despite this shift, citizens and consumers currently lack appropriate information on animal welfare 309 . At EU level, except in the case of eggs 310 (obligatory), organic products 311 and poultry meat 312 (voluntary), there are no specific EU rules on how to inform the consumer about animal welfare 313 . In the public consultation, 84% (46 032 out of 54 611) of the EU citizens did not feel sufficiently informed about the conditions under which animals are farmed in the EU. In general, the public only has a limited understanding of modern farming and of animal welfare issues 314 . The literature also shows that consumers remain poorly informed of the reality of modern farming and their perceptions do not match the assessment of animal welfare issues conducted by national competent authorities, NGOs and academic researchers 315 . The number of citizens that think there is not sufficient choice of animal welfare-friendly food products in shops and supermarkets increased from 38% (in 2006) to 46% (in 2016) 316 .

Market has not responded to the increased demand 317 , despite of the several differing animal welfare labelling schemes developed in the Member States. The proliferation of different schemes with varying standards across Member States seems to confuse consumers, as well as distort competition, and create challenges for functioning of the internal market 318 . A vast majority of respondents (90% - 53 128 of 59 281) to the open public consultation believe that an EU animal welfare label is a useful tool for informing consumers on the conditions in which animals are treated. In this regard, it has been suggested that the establishment of an EU animal welfare label could ensure an equivalent information level for consumers across the EU. It could also increase transparency in the market 319 and facilitate a better market return for farmers’ investment in better animal welfare.

A recently published study on animal welfare labelling provides relevant data 320 . For instance, based on a larger survey (with 300-400 respondents per Member State) and literature review, the study finds that there is evidence of consumer confusion and misinterpretation of existing labels on animal welfare, that here is a clear demand among consumers for information about animal welfare (this need is not fulfilled in many Member States; 16 have no animal welfare label), and that farmers are compensated or rewarded for higher production costs but not necessarily giving them better profit than non-labelled products. It also emerges that consumers’ willingness to pay are not always in line with declared intentions, but that consumers are more willing to pay premium prices if they are informed about animal conditions and believe the product is of higher quality.

4.3.1.3        EU institutions and Member States

There is increasing attention paid to animal welfare by EU institutions and Member States. In a meeting of the Council of the European Union on 12 October 2021, EU Ministers of Agriculture largely welcomed a paper from five Member States designed to encourage the Commission to make new animal welfare rules more effective and cover more species, including pets. Recent Council Conclusions 321  state that ‘there have been calls for further action with certain Member States highlighting the need for better regulation, better animal welfare and awareness-raising about EU standards and knowledge 322 . Moreover, under the Bulgarian, Austrian and Romanian presidencies 323 in 2018-2019, in-depth discussions were held on the challenges of long-distance transport for animal welfare. In its Conclusions on the EU Farm to Fork Strategy 324 , the Council stressed that animal health and welfare are a precondition for sustainable livestock production, and that animal health is a precondition for a reduced need for antimicrobials. The Council called for the current EU animal welfare legislation to be revised “as soon as possible, in particular on the transport of animals, and propose new rules for animals that are not yet covered by specific EU legislation” 325 . In its Conclusions on an EU-wide animal welfare label, the Council considered that an EU-wide animal welfare label for food produced under animal welfare standards higher than those provided by EU legislation could respond to the consumer demand to easily recognise such food, and invited the Commission to develop a tiered transparent labelling scheme with EU-wide harmonised, relevant, measurable and verifiable criteria for this 326 .A considerable number of written questions from European Parliament has been sent to the European Commission on animal welfare in recent years 327 . The European Parliament has recognized the importance of protecting animal welfare through several parliamentary resolutions. On 20 October 2021, the European Parliament approved the Resolution on the Farm to Fork Strategy . The Resolution ‘underlines the importance of taking into account the latest advances in animal welfare science and responding to public, political and market demands for higher animal welfare standards’. 

On 20 January 2022, the Recommendation of the Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals during transport (ANIT) was adopted by the European Parliament. It contains several recommendations for an improved protection of animals during transport 328 . Furthermore, on 16 February 2022, the Implementation Report on on-farm animal welfare was adopted by the European Parliament. The report recalls that EFSA has produced several opinions on the use of animal-based measures (i.e. animal welfare indicators), for species not covered by specific legislation (dairy cows and beef cattle), and regrets that these animal-based measures have not been implemented so far. The European Parliament therefore called on the Commission to ensure that these animal-based measures are updated with the latest scientific knowledge and integrated into the existing legislation.

4.3.2    Does the EU legislation on animal welfare remain fit for purpose in the light of the latest developments and ongoing/future challenges?

Significant trends and developments in science and technology, strong societal demands and current and future sustainability challenges, such as climate change, food security, and threats to public health (such as antimicrobial resistance) 329 , are not fully reflected in current EU animal welfare rules 330 . The current provisions need to be updated in light of  recent developments in science and technology. For instance, current rules on stunning of farmed fish 331 and the protection of species like dairy cows (leg and other disorders caused by genetic selection and high milk yields) are not in line with the latest scientific knowledge 332 .

In other words, some of the current rules need to be aligned with newly available scientific evidence and ongoing developments. This is illustrated by the important number of scientific opinions that have not been reflected in legislation 333 and the significant number of national provisions developed in this area (see examples in Annex III) because the EU legislation is lagging behind. For example, despite being still authorised according to EU animal welfare legislation, sow stalls and farrowing crates are already banned in Sweden, and the use of cages for turkeys, ducks and geese is not authorised in Poland. Beak-trimming has been banned in Finland since 1996 334 . Enriched cages for laying hens are banned in Austria and Luxembourg 335 .

Hence, current EU rules don’t provide an optimal protection of animal welfare as they still allow for practices that are now known to be harmful for the animals.

Indeed, the architecture and the core part of the legislation has not changed for more than ten years, in most cases for more than 20 years. The Commission announced in 2012 its intention to explore a simplified legislative framework, replacing the provisions that were laid down in several different Directives, but this was not pursued 336 .

Current provisions are not futureproof 337 . Welfare science is ‘in constant development and incorporating new insights, for example on the sentience of animals’ 338 . Most stakeholders agree that the current legislation is not fully in line with current scientific knowledge and needs to be revised 339 .

36% (4 out of 11) of business or professional associations who contributed to the targeted survey consider that the EU animal welfare legislation partially allows them to incorporate advances in science and innovation, while only 27% (3 out of 11) replied that the legislation allows them to do so only mostly or totally (36% did not know – 4 out of 11).

In the context of the Green Deal, the model of food production has to be shifted from a policy primarily driven to ensure food security in Europe (after World War II), to a policy driven by environmental challenges, without compromising food security. Animal welfare is a cornerstone of such a sustainable food system.

Still, a vast majority (87% - 51 551 of 59 281) of the respondents to the Open Public Consultation did not consider the current EU animal welfare legislation fit to meet the future challenges in relation to sustainable food production, such as climate change and biodiversity loss 340 .

   

4.3.2.1        Different understanding of animal welfare

Today there is a different understanding of animal welfare than when the legislation was adopted. Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which came into force in 2009, also recognises animals as sentient beings.

The concept of animal welfare on which the current EU animal welfare legislation is based builds on the ‘five freedoms’ (absence of negative experiences for the animal). Such concept is now complemented by recent studies showing that animals can experience positive states 341 . Evidence suggests indeed that the “freedom” approach is not wide enough to be used as a basis for assessment of the welfare of a particular animal. 342 Indeed, there is a shift of emphasis in animal welfare science from the ‘do not harm’ principle towards a more ‘positive’ perspective on welfare, seeking to identify ways of promoting the welfare of animals 343 .

Such a shift has been already seen in national legislation in some countries (e.g. recent German, French and Swedish legislation aims at ‘promoting’ the well-being of farmed animals – seeking to identify ways of improving the welfare of animals, instead of simply trying to avoid unnecessary suffering 344 ). In practical terms, this means giving the animals more possibility to play and to have positive social contacts with other animals. This shift of emphasis in animal welfare science towards a more “positive” perspective on animal welfare is also reflected in debates that inspectors in charge of official controls and farmers have on what ‘animal welfare’ means 345 346

This is confirmed by stakeholders who consider that EU legislation should consider this change of understanding animal welfare and not only focus on preventing negative practices (e.g. unnecessary suffering, stress, hunger, thirst, etc.), but also seek to promote a ‘good’ life for animals kept in farms 347 .

Furthermore, in recent years, and particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic, the ‘One Health’ approach 348 has gained more prominence, recognising that infectious diseases of zoonotic origin may pose a significant threat to human health, notwithstanding the burden on animal health. ‘One Health’ puts focus on the important interlinks between animal welfare, animal health, public health and the environment. The current legislation does not remain fit for purpose also in light of this development, in particular given the challenge of antimicrobial resistance . Further improvements in animal husbandry would reduce the need to use medication on farms, including antibiotics, since a better welfare contributes to strengthening the animals’ immune defense system, as recognised in the EU Farm to Fork Strategy . Proper animal husbandry and animal welfare can also greatly contribute to the early detection of highly pathogenic zoonoses, aiming to stem their spread early enough before they pose a serious cross-border threat to human health. This makes the need for integrated surveillance across the One Health spectrum all the more pertinent.

In addition, ethical concerns – starting to develop in the 1990’s but having become more common and prominent in later years – are raised against e.g. exporting animals by road and/or by sea, or the systematic killing of male one-day old chicks in the laying hens sector. A significant portion of society as well as numerous scientists in the field of animal ethics regard the killing of chicks as a serious ethical issue 349 . Every year, hatcheries in the EU kill around 330 million male day-old-chicks 350 . On the basis of these ethical concerns, France, Austria and Germany have decided to ban the killing of one-day old chicks 351 . Other examples of ethical concerns are the progressive ban of fur farming in Europe 352 , and the ban on cat and dog fur which was introduced by Regulation (EC) No 1523/2007 353 .

A vast majority of the respondents to the public consultation considered that species-specific animal welfare requirements are missing for cats (79%, 47 064 of 59 281) and dogs (80%, 47 272 of 59 281). This is reflected in the stakeholder interviews, where one professional organisation (representing veterinarians) expressed that “for consumers companion animals are extremely important and there are also a lot of welfare problems there”. This illustrates how the citizens’ animal welfare concerns extend to other species than only to those used for food production 354 .

In other words, there has been an evolution of values, expectations and demands, in which the moral grounds for keeping and using animals for human purposes are addressed. At the same time, there has been an evolution of science, in which the positive emotions of animals are recognized. This means that the understanding of animal welfare on which the existing EU animal welfare legislation is based, i.e. as simply the avoidance of unnecessary suffering, needs to be updated.

4.3.2.2 Sustainability

While animal welfare is not explicitly mentioned in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 355 , it can be argued that working to achieving the SDGs is compatible with working to improve animal welfare 356 . The link between SDGs and animal welfare are stronger when it comes to SGDs 12 (Responsible consumption and production) and 14 (Life below water). The role of animal welfare in sustainability was recognized in a resolution adopted by the United Nations in March 2022.

Environmental impacts due to livestock rearing (see chapter 4.1.3.2.4 above) come with added responsibilities and costs for livestock farmers. For instance, in EU pig and broiler production areas, farmers have been addressing these environmental issues (also in order to comply with environmental standards) by introducing new technologies, thereby enhancing the sustainability of their operations while respecting animal welfare standards. Better integration of technologies in the new animal welfare legislation could help address certain sustainability issues, such as the reduction of particle emissions (similar to the air-cleaning technique used in hospitals and garages) 357 .

In addition, better animal welfare would have a positive impact on social sustainability, for instance by promoting the reputation of farmers and other food business operators among consumers and citizens 358 .

87% of the respondents (51 551 out of 59 281) to the public consultation do not feel that the current EU animal welfare legislation can meet future challenges in relation to sustainable food production, such as climate change and biodiversity loss 359 .

More detailed analysis in relation to the five fitness check criteria and questions, together with the “fitness check matrix”, is presented in Annex III.

·What are the conclusions and lessons learned?

oGeneral conclusions

The EU legislation has improved the welfare of many of Europe’s animals compared to the period preceding its adoption. The fitness check showed that the EU animal welfare legislation has improved to a certain extent the welfare of many of Europe’s animals that are covered by targeted legislation (i.e. pigs, calves, laying hens, broilers), and animals during transport and at the time of killing. However, more generally there is still a sub-optimal level of welfare of animals in the EU. In particular, this is the case for species for which such targeted legislation is currently lacking. Furthermore, the current targeted legislation still allows the keeping of animals in cages or other confined housing systems that restrict significantly their movements and hamper their welfare.

The EU animal welfare legislation has contributed to, but not fully ensured, equal conditions for the operators and the economic activities affected. Differences in application and enforcement still create obstacles to the internal market and the achievement of comparable level of animal welfare. Analysis of the legislation and its application shows that this is partly due to the vagueness of certain provisions. The fact that the EU animal welfare legislation is not up to pace with certain developments in different Member States’ national legislation further aggravates the situation.

Current EU rules need to be updated in light of new science and technological evidence and developments, as well as the evolution of societal demands. There are certain gaps in the legislation, e.g. as regards the protection of dairy cows and farmed fish for which the above analysis shows that current provisions are not specific and detailed enough and therefore not adapted to their needs. Furthermore, the lack of update of the EU animal welfare legislation for more than 10 years has led certain Member States to adopt an increasing number of national measures going beyond EU requirements.

There is a lack of concepts and tools, such as robust indicators, and baselines to measure animal welfare, its variation, and evolution. A system for monitoring and triggering improvements in animal welfare is missing. Inspired by the work done in the Welfare Quality project in the late 1990’s, the use of an animal-based indicator (foot-pad dermatitis) became a legal requirement in 2007, through the adoption of the Broilers Directive. This, together with the requirement of monitoring the effect of stunning in slaughterhouses, are the only requirements to collect animal-based indicators present in the current legislation. Further to this, and the remarks made by the Court of Auditors in their Special Report on Animal Welfare in 2018, several efforts have been made at EU level to construct further indicators (so far with limited success, since animal welfare is a complex and multi-facetted matter) 360 .

The enforcement of current rules is insufficient in many regards to ensure the level of animal welfare expected by today’s citizens. The evaluation of the EU Animal Welfare Strategy (2012-2015) has confirmed that while a certain progress has been made in many areas, some topics like animal transport on long journeys, certain stunning methods and the routine pig tail docking have been identified as remaining areas where the compliance is still challenging. A more consistent enforcement alone would however not be enough as the analysis shows there are also significant shortcomings and deficiencies in the legislation in force.

oEvaluation criteria assessment

Effectiveness:

The EU animal welfare legislation has contributed to a better and more uniform protection of many of Europe’s farm animals, and helped to reduce competitive distortions in the internal market caused by differences in national standards.

However, many animals are still unnecessarily suffering, and the lack of harmonized species specific requirements for certain species, such as dairy cows, further hampers considerably the protection of those species. In addition, many operators are required to deal with diverging national rules, or different interpretations of common requirements, which create obstacles on the internal market.

To a considerable extent, this is due to shortcomings of the current legislation, especially since many provisions are neither sufficiently precise to be enforceable, nor sufficiently specific to protect the welfare of all relevant species. Their vagueness makes it difficult for the legislation to fully achieve the objectives of improving the internal market and protecting animal welfare.

Different levels of ambition in transposing and supplementing the Directives have further contributed to differing levels of animal welfare at farm level between the Member States, compared to the areas of animal transport and slaughter where Regulations are used. These variations in animal welfare standards have led to competitive distortions in the internal market.

For transport, the current – mainly paper based – system, which depends to a great extent on information provided by the business operator, poses a big challenge to the proper enforcement of the rules. Furthermore, there is a lack of coordination on inspections between authorities in the Member States involved, and the sanction systems are weak and unevenly applied across the Member States. The transport legislation would require more precise provisions, definitions and division of responsibilities between stakeholders in order to make it easier to enforce.

For slaughter, there is no specific requirement applicable to the killing of farmed fish and some widely used stunning methods are not optimal for the welfare of animals (waterbath stunning, use of high concentration of carbon dioxide for pigs).

Efficiency:

The EU animal welfare legislation is assumed to have brought several additional benefits, such as higher productivity, enhanced ecosystems services, lower use of antibiotics and better public health. Animal welfare however also entails additional costs for food business operators and public authorities.

Evidence, albeit limited, suggests that the benefits outweighs the costs of animal welfare, at least over time. However, business operators consider that the market return on food produced under higher welfare standards is still insufficient to compensate for the additional costs imposed by higher animal welfare standards. Though, the situation differs between Member States and different sectors, due to differences in citizens’ expectations and market demands.

The information currently provided to consumers on animal welfare standards is insufficient and incoherent. To a large extent, a better return on animal welfare investment may be achieved by providing more, better but also simpler information to consumers, allowing them to make informed choices in line with their animal welfare concerns.

There is a potential to ease the administrative burden for SME’s (for instance, for small slaughterhouses).

Coherence:

The various components of EU animal welfare legislation are broadly complementary, mutually supportive and consistent, and have remained compatible with other EU policies, such as on competitiveness, trade and the environment.

However, in view of the objectives of the Farm to Fork Strategy and the need to make the EU food system more sustainable, a greater leverage of the Common Agriculture Policy and trade policy to achieve animal welfare objectives is needed. There are calls for a greater coherence between the EU’s internal legislative framework on animal welfare and its approach to imports. There is also a practical difficulty to reconcile the species-specific journey times for animals in the Transport Regulation, and the driving times under Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 on certain social rules relating to road transports.

EU added value:

Action at EU level serves to ensure that the aspirations of its citizens and businesses, as reflected in the Treaty, are equally promoted and supported.

The objective to ensure a common approach with regard to the protection of animal welfare, and to create a level playing field on the internal market, has been better achieved at EU level.

Relevance:

The current EU animal welfare legislation was an appropriate response to the animal welfare needs and challenges at the time of its adoption, based on the best available science of that time. Despite the progress made most of these the problems and drivers remain relevant today, as increasing societal expectations (including ethical concerns, including regarding the use of cages), scientific and technological developments and future sustainability challenges are not properly addressed by current rules.

In addition the analysis has demonstrated that certain provisions are too vague, which contributes to a varying level of animal welfare that distorts competition between EU food business operators, a lack of tools to properly monitor the application of the legislation, a lack of appropriate training of staff handling animals that results in a poor management of the animals, and a lack of more tailored requirements to properly address the needs of certain species.

oLessons learned

The current EU animal welfare legislation needs to be updated to reflect societal expectations and ethical concerns, scientific and technological evidence, developments and future sustainability challenges. Citizens’ concerns for animal welfare extend beyond animals used for food production.

There is a lack of concepts and tools, such as robust indicators, and baselines to measure animal welfare, its variation, and evolution over time. A system for monitoring and triggering improvements in animal welfare is missing. However, the Commission’s overview report from 2022 on the use of indicators for animal welfare at farm level concludes that it would be feasible to establish indicators for different farming systems to monitor whether the animal welfare conditions are improving, remaining stable or worsening. It suggests that, in the context of the revision of the EU animal welfare legislation, the Commission could consider developing a common methodological framework to establish, for each Member State, an overall state of play of the conditions under which animals are treated in farms, and an EU animal welfare dashboard.

The language of certain provisions is too vague and ambiguous, which creates enforcement problems and varying levels of implementation of common requirements. Further precision could be sought, including by providing clearer definitions, and the potential for further simplification and cost reduction, including by an increased use of digital tools, could be explored.



Annex I. Procedural information

Lead DG

The European Commission's Directorate-General (DG) for Health and Food Safety is the lead DG for this fitness check (PLAN/2020/6933).

Organisation and timing

The Commission published a roadmap on the fitness check of the EU animal welfare legislation 361 on 20 May 2020. It was open for stakeholders’ feedback until 24 August 2020, with 172 responses received. An online public consultation (PC) ran for 14 weeks from 15 October 2021 until 21 January 2022, with 59 281 responses received. Since the fitness check is performed back-to-back to an impact assessment for the revision of the current legislation, the OPC contained questions on the functioning of existing provisions as well as on potential future policy choices.

An inter-service steering group (ISSG) was established in May 2020 involving representatives from several Commission’s Directorates-General DG AGRI, DG INTPA, DG ENV, DG JUST, DG MARE, DG MOVE, DG NEAR, DG TRADE, DG RTD and the Secretariat-General. The ISSG contributed to the fitness check and ensured that it met the necessary standards for quality, impartiality and usefulness. The first ISSG meeting was held on 26 June 2020. The second meeting was held on 7 Sept 2020, followed by written exchanges. The last ISSG meeting was held on 28 March 2022.

Exceptions to the Better Regulation Guidelines

None.

Consultation of the Regulatory Scrutiny Board (RSB)

Yes. An upstream meeting with the RSB was held on 29 November 2021. The final meeting with the RSB took place on 11 May 2022, in which the following recommendations were made:

RSB recommendation

Modifications of the draft SWD

·The report should better explain the specific expected outcomes at the time of adoption of the relevant legislation and to what extent each intervention was successful in achieving those outcomes. The lack of agreed definition of animal welfare, the evolution of the concept of animal welfare during the evaluation period, as well as the lack of agreed and measurable indicators should be reflected in this context.

A more detailed description of the expected outcomes at the time of adoption has been added to section 4.1 (in particular in chapter 4.1.1.). The narrative has been expanded and tables have been inserted to better illustrate the expectations and outcomes, as regards each of the legislation’s objectives, and the indicators used to measure the level of success. The lack of indicators and other monitoring tools is further addressed in the same chapter, with more evidence collected from the DG SANTE audit and overview reports.

·The report should explain more clearly the reasons for the identified regulatory and implementation failures, in particular regarding the vagueness and flexibility of certain provisions, as well as the related trade-offs. The report should further develop the reasons for performance disparities among Member States and substantiate this analysis with evidence.

More information on EU infringement actions against non-compliant Member States has been added in section 3.2. In the same chapter, the reasons for non-compliance with the ban on routine tail docking of pigs is further elaborated upon. In section 4.1.1, the reasons for the Member States’ challenges to enforce the Transport Regulation are further elaborated upon. In the same chapter, the vagueness and flexibility of certain provisions is further elaborated upon and explained. The reasons behind the performance differences among Member States is also further developed in the same chapter-

·The report should take stock of all relevant available data and should consistently use it to support the analysis. More recent (2010-2021) sectorial and horizontal data should be included or the reasons for its unavailability be clearly explained. The report highlights the lack of specific indicators or historic data, but does little to compensate for this by using other sources of information (e.g. from EFSA, inspections to the Member States), case studies and extrapolations or comparisons with third countries. Even where monitoring and collection of indicators is obligatory (e.g. Broilers Directive) the report fails to provide the relevant data or to explain why such data is not useful.

More recent data on trade and animal transports has been added in section 3.1. More recent data on foot-pad dermatitis (i.e. the only animal welfare indicator currently required by EU law) has been added in section 4.1.1. To compensate for the lack of indicators, further and more consistent use has been made of DG SANTE audit and overview reports, as well as of the stakeholders’ views as expressed in the interviews, the targeted survey and the public consultation. Trends as regards the evolutions at national levels have been further addressed and identified, with the help of the Commission’s annual reports on the operation of official controls in the Member States, and more examples of national data have been added.

·The report should try to estimate the total cost of the legislation (including in absolute values) and explain the metrics used in its calculation. It should consistently analyse the distributional impacts on businesses including SMEs. The limitations of the cost calculations should be set out more consistently in the report.

Since certain provisions are too vague to be measurable and the CBA study targeted certain key provisions, an estimate of the total cost of the EU animal welfare legislation would not be possible. This limitation is more clearly explained in section 4.1.2, where however further analysis on the costs have been added to better explain the distributional impacts, including on SME’s (e.g. through a more consistent use of the qualitative evidence available, notably from stakeholder interviews). In section 4.1.3.2., a more thorough analysis of different cost elements, including those not related to animal welfare, is provided.

·The report needs to substantiate the assessment of benefits better. In particular, it should explain clearly the causal link between the legislation and the realised benefits, as well as their magnitude. In view of the lack of comprehensive analysis, the conclusion that ‘it is generally considered that the benefits outweigh the costs’ should either be properly justified or qualified as necessary.

The assessment of the benefits, and their magnitude, has been further expanded upon in section 4.1.2. More evidence to substantiate and/or qualify the claims has been added, including as regards the general conclusion.

·Whereas the report recognises the inherent tension between animal welfare principles, their practical implementation and economic factors it should also correlate this with adverse economic impacts and with evolution of consumers’ behaviour in this regard.

A new section on “costs vs benefits” has been inserted in section 4.1.2. to better explain the economic consequences of compliance (as well as of non-compliance) with the EU animal welfare legislation. In section 4.3.1.2, further use has been made of the evidence provided through the recent study on animal welfare labelling, to better describe the evolution of consumers’ behaviour and willingness to pay.

·The conclusions of the report should acknowledge explicitly, from the lessons learned, the need to provide agreed definitions of animal welfare, indicators, and improve data availability and monitoring. In view of the recognised lack of data, the available evidence in the report does not necessarily support the robustness of some of the conclusions, thus the report should either further substantiate those or qualify them accordingly.

The lack of commonly agreed animal welfare indicators, and the need to improve data availability and monitoring, are now more clearly acknowledged in the conclusions of the report (section 5.1). Additional evidence, provided by a broader literature review and a more comprehensive use of stakeholders’ views (including Member States), has been added throughout the report to further substantiate the conclusions. Where relevant, a qualification of these conclusions is made (see e.g. the new tables on expectations vs outcomes in section 4.1.1.)

·The report should analyse and identify specific measures for simplification and administrative burden reduction. The Annex IV table on simplification and burden reduction should be completed accordingly.

The matters of simplification and administrative burdens are further expanded upon in section 4.1.2., in particular as regards the impacts of digitalisation. The table in Annex IV has been completed to the extent possible.

Evidence, sources and quality

This fitness check report drew on the following sources of evidence:

·Desk research

·A cost-benefit analysis (performed by an external expert in the context of a “CBA study”).

·Field research, including:

·Analysis of the feedback received on the fitness check roadmap and on the public consultation (PC);

·A series of interviews with stakeholders;

·A targeted survey;

·A stakeholders’ conference.

Annex II of this report describes in more detail the data collection tools used to gather the relevant information. i.e. the literature review, the stakeholder interviews, the OPC, the targeted survey and the external study.

1.

Annex II. Methodology and analytical models used

The methodology used for the fitness check is based on desk and field research, i.e. literature review, a cost-benefit analysis performed by an external expert, interviews with stakeholders, exchanges with EFSA and the EU Platform on Animal Welfare , a targeted survey and a Public Consultation (jointly addressing fitness check and impact assessment issues). A Stakeholder Conference on 9 December 2021 provided an additional opportunity to gather input on the shortcomings and positives aspects of the current EU animal welfare legislation. For more details on the stakeholder consultation activities please refer to Annex V.

Methodology, sources of information and data analysis

The methodology for this support study was based on:

-Desk-based research, including literature review and extraction of evidence from the following types of documents: EU legislation, Staff Working Documents; reports and documents produced by the Commission and available on the DG SANTE’s dedicated website; peer-reviewed academic papers, articles and theses. A total of more than 200 studies and reports, selected to provide a broad, factual and science-based overview, were reviewed and provided evidence for the analysis. In addition, statistics from Eurostat, TRACES 362 and the EU meat market observatory 363 have been used, as well as raw data provided by Member States and stakeholders upon request.

The sources of information used included, among others:

1.Evaluation of the EU Policy on Animal Welfare and Possible Policy Options for the Future, by DG SANCO (2010)

2.Impact Assessment of the Killing Regulation (2008)

3.Impact Assessment (2012) and evaluation (2021) of the EU Animal Welfare Strategy 2012-2015

4.Commission studies and reports on the implementation of the EU animal welfare legislation

5.Commission reports from audits in the Member States

6.Special Eurobarometers on consumers’ views on animal welfare (2006 and 2016)

7.Academic literature

8.Special Report by the ECA (2018) on animal welfare

9.European Parliament resolutions (1987-2022) on animal welfare

10.Council Conclusions (2018-2021) on animal welfare.

-Field research, including a targeted survey addressed to Member States, international organisations, business organisations, professional organisations, NGO’s and academia, and an interview programme targeting business operators along the agri-food chain, including a consumers’ organisation. More than 100 stakeholders were reached through these targeted consultation activities, in the form of interviews and/or surveys. In addition, a total of 59 281 respondents contributed to the Public Consultation. Of these responses, 54 611 came from EU citizens (92%), and 2 817 from non-EU citizens (5%). The other 1 856 respondents can be broken down as follows: 116 academics/researchers; 123 business associations; 537 companies/business organisations; 266 NGOs, 103 organisations (11 consumer organisations and 92 environmental organisations); 83 public authorities; 38 trade unions and 590 other (i.e. respondents who identified themselves under this group).

 

-Analysis and triangulation of quantitative and qualitative data, from which conclusions were formulated.

The fitness check was based on the five evaluation criteria – effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, coherence and EU-added value.

Definition of indicators

In the absence of commonly agreed indicators, the level of animal welfare (and its evolution over time) was assessed by using slaughterhouse statistics (e.g. mortality rates) as well as data on certain injuries and diseases, such as footpad dermatitis and mastitis. In general, the definition of animal welfare on the basis of which the indicators have been chosen is described as the extent to which the animals are allowed to express their natural behaviour and not exposed to unnecessary suffering and pain. More detailed information on the indicators used in the fitness check is provided in the Evaluation Matrix (Annex III).

External support study supporting the cost-benefit analysis/economic analysis

The methodological approach of the external study was based on the Better Regulations Guidelines and Toolbox, and specifically Tools #56 and #63 on the cost-benefit analysis. The approach followed and challenges identified are presented in section 2 of the study (see Annex VIII).

A number of provisions were selected that deemed to be the most important and/or costly ones (in terms of compliance costs). The following selection criteria guided the choice of the provisions for the CBA analysis:

·relevance (for stakeholders and the legislation revision process)

·specificity of provisions (sufficiently specific so that a CBA is possible)

·data availability (literature)



Table 1 Provisions chosen for cost benefit assessment

Legislation

Selection of provisions

General Directive

no specific provision chosen

Pigs Directive

·weaners, rearing pigs: floor area, floor properties, manipulable material

·sows, gilts: confinement/floor area/floor properties, manipulable material, dietary fibre

·mutilations: castration, tail docking

·inspections by public authorities

Broilers Directive

·stocking densities

·climate inside housing

·on-farm record keeping by farmers

·monitoring/follow-up at slaughterhouses

·inspections by public authorities

Calves Directive

·confinement/floor area for group housing

·size and properties of individual pens

·feed properties

·inspections by public authorities

Laying Hens Directive

·ban of unenriched cages

·transitional period

·requirements for alternative systems

·beak trimming

·distinguishing number for egg marketing

·inspections by public authorities

Transport Regulation

species: cattle, pigs, poultry

means of transport: trucks, livestock vessels (less data)

·properties of means of transport (related to journey time)

·authorisation of transporters

·training and certification of staff

·approval of means of transport

·journey log

·non-discriminatory inspections by public authorities

Killing Regulation

species: cattle, pigs, poultry

- training and certification of staff

- monitoring of killing/stunning effectiveness

- animal welfare officers

- network for scientific support

- technical aspects: electrical parameters for stunning of poultry, recording devices for electrical stunning

Having selected for each legislation the provisions to be included in the CBA, for each provision, the following steps were performed:

-Definition of BAU scenario and alternative scenarios for compliance with the provision

-Literature review of existing documents per provision to gather information of costs and benefits with a focus on those documents that provide costs and benefits for the minimum level of compliance with the respective provision

-Reliability assessment of the retrieved literature and decision, which documents are finally to be used as a basis for the monetisation of the costs (and benefits)

-Qualitative summary and monetisation of costs and benefits per provision and development of coverage scenarios to assess costs and benefits at EU level

Finally, a summing up across all provisions of a legislation was done to come up with costs and benefits for the legislation in total (or at least all analysed provisions). In the following, additional methodological details are given.

Business as usual scenario (BAU)

Business As Usual (BAU) situations were identified ex-post, that reflected the situation in the different member states (i.e. already exceeding the proposed EU legislation; equal/similar to the proposed EU legislation; below minimum requirement to be defined in the proposed EU legislation). In addition, the EU production share that adhered to any of these three situations needed to be known in order to come up with meaningful estimates regarding the calculation of the direct costs of compliance of the affected businesses.

Alternative compliance scenarios

Given that provisions were often not fully specific in how a business (farm) could comply with them, different alternatives of compliance were possible, and had to be considered in the analysis.

Stakeholders considered in the cost-benefit analysis

In this study, the following “stakeholders” are considered:

-Businesses: refer to all types of business (e.g. farms, transport companies, slaughterhouses) that are affected by a legislation

-Consumers: refer to those citizens that consume a certain product

-Public authorities: refer to EU, national or local administrations

-Animal welfare: refers to the welfare of animals

-Environment: refers to the welfare of the environment

-Public health: refers to the health of the citizens in general 364  

Even though animal welfare, environment and public health are no groups/stakeholders of the society, they are termed “stakeholder” because it is in the societal interest to understand the costs and benefits of a legislation on a larger set of dimensions. Hence, the welfare of animals, the welfare of the environment and how public health is affected, are all part of the set of “stakeholders” included in the analysis.

Literature review

The findings rely on the data and literature already available. Hence, the “data” for this study consisted of peer-reviewed publications, grey literature, and interview transcripts.

Using a list of standardised key words for the search and based on first findings, a snowball approach, the following literature databases were screened: Scopus, EFSA database, Wageningen Economic Research database, OpenAgrar (German Federal Research Institutes).

Definition of items in cost-benefit analysis

Costs and benefits were differentiated on the cost side into direct compliance costs, enforcement costs and indirect costs, and on the benefit side, into direct and indirect benefits.

Direct costs occur due to compliance with the legislation, direct benefits are those positive impacts (increase in welfare, increase in market efficiency) that are the result of the objective of the legislation. Indirect costs and benefits occur in related markets or to stakeholders that are not directly targeted by the legislation but experience an, often, unintended impact of the legislation.

Regarding direct compliance costs (for producers/businesses), where possible, charges (fees, levies, taxes) administrative costs and adjustment costs were considered. Administrative costs refer to administrative obligations for example for information transfer or information availability upon request and include activities such as registration, monitoring, reporting or labelling. Adjustment costs are defined as incremental costs of compliance with the new regulation (other than charges and administrative costs) and capture cost items such as labour, material and equipment or investments into buildings. In line with other studies, changes in revenues were also included (Brouwer et al. 2011). On the revenue side, this meant in practice mostly, that animal productivity may have changed due to the new legislation which would affect the revenue side.

Another aspect was the point in time at which costs (or benefits) occur, and if they are “one-off” or “recurrent”. This is particular important, when substantial adjustments for compliance with a new legislation are necessary, for example such as building a new barn or housing. Here, following the literature, the study’s approach was to annualise all investment costs over the lifetime of the investment while the lifetime of the investment may differ, depending on the type of investment necessary and the assumptions of the underlying studies. Added to these annualised investment costs are then the additional recurrent costs, so that the monetary values given in this study represent a sum of annualised one-off costs plus recurrent costs. 

Reliability assessment

A reliability assessment was carried out to finally select those studies/reviews that seemed the best fit for the CBA

Summarising the findings

Finally, per provision, the costs and benefits are qualitatively condensed out of the available studies.

Regarding the monetisation of the direct compliance costs, the following steps were performed:

-If a study contained percentage information of increase in production costs (total costs, variable costs),this information was directly included in the analysis and it was documented which cost items were included.

-If a study contained information about additional costs in [Euro/product unit] for compliance with the new legislation,

owe searched for the remaining costs (e.g. basic costs for the respective animal type, country and year (e.g. in KTBL information).

oIf such cost figures were not available, we searched for the respective producer prices and used these as an approximation of production costs so that a percentage figure could be calculated.

oRegarding the producer price per unit of product, we relied on Eurostat or EC producer price information and always formed a five-year average price around the year in which the analysed studies were performed.

Regarding the summary of potential benefits for consumers, often Willingness-To-Pay (WTP) values are cited. Here, it is important to keep in mind that even though consumers frequently state that they would be willing to pay more for a product that was produced under certain conditions, the reality shows that often, at the point of sale, this behaviour of buying products displaying certain characteristics at higher price is often not occurring. This is known as the consumer-citizen gap, a well-researched and debated problem with these WTP estimates. In addition, even when a higher purchase price can be realised, it is not clear, if then, along the production value chain, this additional financial value added really benefits the producers.

Main challenges

The main challenges highlighted in the CBA study relate to the following:

·Difficulties in performing an ex-post CBA on legislation that had already been in place for at least 13 or more years. In addition, for each legislation, the entry into force was at a different point in time, and, for some provisions of the legislations, transition periods were fixed. Hence, understanding the timing of the entry into force for each legislation and provision was crucial, and the costs and benefits at the respective time point had to be assessed.

·No own data collection was performed in the context of the study, which completely relied on available assessments and literature. This implies that studies had to be identified, that focused exactly on the provisions of the respective legislations, and that did the “with and without” comparison, so that the BAU and cost and benefits, incurred due to the entry into force of the legislation could be clearly identified. Hence, the ex-post CBA using individual points in time was dependent on the availability of studies (see also Figure 1), and no discounting over time of costs was carried out when the study time frame and the entry into force was not exactly aligning. Instead, percentage terms and hypothetical scenarios were employed.

·EU legislation versus Member State reality: in particular for the Council directives regulating the husbandry conditions of farm animal welfare requirements for pigs, laying hens, chickens for meat production and calves, large heterogeneity in the implementation in the Member States can be observed. This has implications for the calculation of costs and benefits. Hence, the challenge for the calculation of costs and benefits was to make an informed assumption about the maximum distance between the EU-wide average BAU scenario and the minimum fulfilment of EU legislation on a provision per provision basis. Given the unavailability of this information, this study has used a simplified approach based on minimum and maximum compliance assumptions for the average EU stock of the respective animal category. Another limitation applies to the consideration of transition periods: Different transition periods existed and for some Member States, due to these transitions, compliance with the provision might have generated no costs (or benefits). However, again due to limitations of the available literature and the scope of the study, it was not systematically investigated for all Member States and animal categories which type of transition applies and therefore, what costs and benefits occurred. Furthermore, the focus is on cost and benefits of compliance with the minimum legislation standard, hence national “gold plating” or additional obligations required by private standards were also not considered.

·Time and budgetary constraints, combined with a large scope of the study. In particular the economic importance of the provisions in relation to production costs would have needed more attention, but also the costs and benefits for example for consumers or the environment could only be touched upon briefly. This latter part suffered strongly from the unavailability of coherent historical data (production volume, prices) for the main production activities of the farm level directives.



Limitations and reliability of data

There are difficulties to measure “animal welfare” due to the lack of agreed indicators on how to measure animal welfare and lack of EU level harmonised data collection system or relevant statistics from e.g. slaughterhouses, further aggravated by a lack of points of comparison to measure progress over time.

To mitigate the lack of EU-wide indicators to measure animal welfare focus has been put in the fitness check on providing a qualitative description of the points of comparison as solid as possible, based on an assessment of the extent to which the current legislation allows for the animals to express their natural behaviour (e.g. to move around in confined spaces), e.g. reflected in the prevalence of certain injuries and diseases. 

In addition, raw data such as slaughterhouse statistics (e.g. rejection and mortality rates for pigs, footpad dermatitis rates for broilers) have been used to the extent possible to assess the evolution as regards the level of animal welfare. Even though these statistics are not comparable for all Member States – since no such general requirement exists at EU level - and not regularly collected and made available for all animal species, they still provide useful examples that help to illustrate the evolution of animal welfare over time.

To that end, at the EU Animal Welfare Platform’s meeting on 10 November 2021, a specific call to fill existing gaps was made to Member States, business organisations and NGOs to provide data on foot-pad dermatitis rates for broilers, the number of pigs raised with intact tails, longevity trends for calves and dairy cows, somatic cell counts for dairy cows, rejection and mortality rates for pigs and poultry and the number of calves and sows kept in individual pens and stalls.

Concerning points of comparison, the situation before the adoption of the current legislation had to be re-constructed qualitatively, based on literature and stakeholder consultations due to the lack of specific quantitative data, and robust indicators, on the level of animal welfare and the situation as regards the competitiveness of EU business operators.

To note is that there is no evidence on the costs of implementing the Farm Directive, since its provisions are generally formulated. The CBA study concludes that the Directive has been linked to some administrative costs for farmers (record keeping, usually considered good practice and a norm in modern farming). However, while other implementation costs may have been generated by the Directive, e.g. to improve buildings, such changes have also been driven by other policies than animal welfare legislation (e.g. support to farmers to modernise and optimise their buildings and equipment) and as such are difficult to attribute to the Directive.

The lack of quantitative data on (some types of) costs – and benefits – is a general problem, common to all pieces of the EU animal welfare legislation. This made it complicated, and sometimes impossible, to assess the ratio of costs/benefits and the distribution across stakeholders, as shown in the CBA study. To some extent, this has been complemented by qualitative information provided by interviewed stakeholders.

Robustness of results

The evolution of animal welfare since the adoption of the current legislation has not been systematically recorded, evaluated or monetised. Hence, there are some challenges, mainly due to the lack of common indicators and comparable data, e.g. on rejection and mortality rates in slaughterhouses. As a result, certain assumed developments could not be concluded with certainty. However, despite the scarcity of data described above, the available literature and other evidence, including from on-site audits in the Member States, allow the fitness check findings to remain overall robust.

Overall, evidence was structured according to the judgment criteria and indicators presented in the evaluation matrix (Annex III). As not all sources of evidence are equally robust, consideration was given as to when and how the evidence was collected and whether there was any bias or uncertainty in it. 

Whenever possible, triangulation of data was performed from the different data collection activities to arrive at robust and evidence-based results that could be confirmed by more than one source.

The fitness check triangulated at two different levels:

·Triangulation of data: primary data from stakeholder consultation activities and secondary data derived from the desk research.

·Triangulation of methods: desk-based research, survey, interviews, public consultation.

There were some cases where the public and targeted consultation and literature review did not produce enough robust evidence to provide a complete answer to the fitness check questions, including:

·Limited data to assess the extent to which the EU animal welfare legislation allow business operators to incorporate advances in science and innovation (fitness check question 1.3).

·Limited data to assess the consequences or effects (whether socio-economic, environmental or health-related, both positive and negative) that were not originally planned (fitness check question 4.4).

Quality of analysis

The Public Consultation contributions were quality-reviewed to see whether different respondents’ assessments could be analysed in combination, to provide a more detailed analysis of views and perceptions of animal welfare. In addition, a considerable amount of literature was reviewed, and carefully compared with each other as well as with the views expressed by stakeholders in the consultation activities.

A rating of the quality of the available evidence has been provided for each fitness check question in the evaluation matrix in Annex III.

Critical assessment of work carried out by external contractor

The external study was performed with considerable time and budgetary constraints, with a very broad scope (seven legal acts to assess, from farm level to transport and slaughter) and relied on data/information already available (no own primary data collection was performed from the study team). Still, the study is based on a thorough analysis of a considerable amount of scientific and economic studies, including views from stakeholders, and therefore sufficiently robust.

The work carried out by the external contractor on the cost-effectiveness of the current EU animal welfare legislation is considered of good quality despite the limitations described above. There is a logical progression from the evidence gathered to the analysis and conclusions.

The Commission services agree broadly with the assumptions and conclusions presented.

Annex III. Evaluation matrix and, where relevant, Details on answers to the evaluation questions (by criterion)

Question

Sub-question

Judgement criteria

Indicator

Data sources/quality of evidence

Relevance

·To what extent is the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals an appropriate EU level response to animal welfare needs and other current and future needs?

oWhat are the needs, interests and expectations of stakeholders - including farmers, consumers, business operators and competent authorities - and to what extent does the current EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals address them?

Degree to which the current EU animal welfare legislation meets the need, interests and expectations of stakeholders.

Animal welfare as business factor for farmers and food business operators.

Attention paid to animal welfare by citizens and politicians in the EU.

Interviews with farmers and food business organisations; literature; Eurobarometers

Quality of evidence: High

(Difficult to obtain evidence on the expectation of stakeholders in the 1990’s when the current legislation was adopted)

oDoes the EU legislation on animal welfare remain fit for purpose in the light of the latest developments and ongoing/future challenges?

Degree to which the current EU animal welfare legislation remains fit for purpose (scientific and societal developments, including development of national legislation).

Scientific developments not taken into account in the EU legislation (see non-exhaustive list below).

Member States’ national legislation going beyond the EU standards (see examples below).

Interviews; targeted survey; public consultation; literature;

Quality of evidence: High

oTo what extent does the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals allow business operators to incorporate advances in science and innovation?

Degree to which the current EU animal welfare legislation allows for the incorporation of science and innovation by operators.

Level of flexibility in adapting practices to new developments.

Targeted survey

Quality of evidence: Low

(No evidence found in the public domain)

Coherence

·To what extent has the EU animal welfare legislation been coherent internally and with other EU and non-EU interventions related to Animal Welfare?

2.1) To what extent is the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals internally coherent, including all of their implementing acts? What, if any, are the inconsistencies, contradictions, unnecessary duplication, overlap or missing links between different pieces of animal welfare legislation? Are these leading to unintended results?

Degree to which the respective pieces of EU animal welfare legislation are consistent with each other.

Degree to which unintended results have occurred.

Existence of provisions with conflicting objectives or outcomes.

Existence of unintended results

Interviews; targeted survey; public consultation; literature.

Quality of evidence: High

(No evidence found on any unintended results).

2.2) To what extent is the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals coherent with relevant OIE standards and other policy areas and pieces of legislation? What, if any, are the inconsistencies, contradictions, unnecessary duplications, overlaps or missing links between EU animal welfare legislation, OIE standards and related policies and pieces of legislation as actually implemented and enforced? Are these leading to unintended results?

Degree to which the respective pieces of EU animal welfare legislation are consistent with legislation in other policy areas.

Existence of provisions with conflicting objectives or outcomes.

Interviews; targeted survey; public consultation; literature.

Quality of evidence: High

Efficiency

·To what extent has the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals been cost effective?

3.1) What are the quantifiable benefits, taking into account resources (cost, time etc.) to stakeholders, including consumers, farmers, business operators and competent authorities?

Degree to which the respective pieces of EU animal welfare legislation have brought tangible benefits and to whom.

Benefits (direct and indirect) from social, economic and environmental perspective for:

·Animals

·Farmers/business operators

·Competent authorities (< risks for animal health/less controls)

·Consumers

Quantitative and qualitative evidence on benefits for:

·Animals

·Consumers

·Environment

·Public health

CBA study; interviews; targeted survey; public consultation; literature.

Quality of evidence: Medium

(No evidence of the costs related specifically to the time devoted to compliance with EU animal welfare requirements by operators/authorities).

3.2) What are the quantifiable burdens, taking into account resources (cost, time, etc.) to stakeholders, and are there aspects that could be simplified to improve efficiency?

Degree to which the respective pieces of EU animal welfare legislation have brought tangible burdens and costs.

Compliance and administrative costs for:

- Farmers/business operators, including SME’s

- Competent authorities (< risks for animal welfare/less controls)

- consumers

Quantitative and qualitative evidence on:

·Investments in new infrastructure and equipment

·Management practices (mutilations etc).

·Administration

Potential to reduce administrative burdens (including but not limited to SMEs).

CBA study; interviews; targeted survey; public consultation; literature.

Quality of evidence: Medium

3.3) How cost efficient is the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals in ensuring animal welfare and in contributing to environmental objectives and a level playing field for EU business operators?

Degree to which the costs brought by the respective pieces of EU animal welfare legislation are outweighed by benefits.

Ratio of costs and benefits

Distribution of costs and benefits across stakeholders and welfare areas

CBA study; interviews; targeted survey; public consultation; literature.

Quality of evidence: Medium

Effectiveness

·To what extent has the EU animal welfare legislation delivered against its intended objectives?

4.1) To what extent has the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals contributed to and/or hindered:

A more comprehensive and uniform protection of animals across species in the EU, including farmed fish? What are the key gaps to do more? (general objective)

The functioning of the EU market and a level playing field in the EU and at global level? (general objective)

Rational production and a sustainable food chain?

Meeting societal demands (specific objective)?

Improving knowledge of key actors (specific objective)?

Degree to which the EU animal welfare legislation have contributed to achieve the objectives.

Degree to which the respective pieces of EU animal welfare legislation address all animals in need.

Animal welfare defined as by the extent to which the animals are allowed to express natural behavior, and illustrated by:

·statistics on certain injuries (e.g. lameness) and mortality

·statistics on diseases (e.g. mastitis and foot-pad dermatitis)

·statistics on the sales of antimicrobials for veterinary use.

Welfare of animal species not subjected to specific EU requirement.

Differences in animal welfare standards between Member States, and differences in the application of common requirements. Complaints raised against unfair conditions of competition caused by the EU animal welfare legislation.

The level of balance between the objective of ensuring an economically viable food production and the objective of respecting animal welfare and other aspects of sustainability.

Expectations of citizens/consumers as expressed in Eurobarometers and the ECI “End the Cage Age”.

Level of animal welfare competence among staff handling animals (as illustrated by trainings provided by the Member States to that end).

CBA study; interviews; targeted survey; public consultation; literature.

Quality of evidence: Medium

4.2) To what extent, why and in which aspects has the EU legislation for the welfare of farmed animals been difficult to comply with, taking into account also the interplay between different pieces of legislation including those governing animal production?

Degree to which the respective pieces of EU animal welfare legislation have been difficult to comply with due to difficulties in interpretation.

The use of open norms, such as “sufficient” and “appropriate”.

CBA study; interviews; targeted survey; public consultation; literature.

Quality of evidence: High

4.3) To what extent is the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals effectively implemented across EU Member States (e.g. enforcement)?

Degree to which the respective pieces of EU animal welfare legislation have been difficult to enforce.

Difficulties in the application of common requirements (infringements, complaints, official control reports, audits etc).

CBA study; interviews; targeted survey; public consultation; literature; audits.

Quality of evidence: High

4.4) What are the consequences or effects (whether socio-economic, environmental or health-related, both positive and negative) that were not originally planned (for instance, unnecessary regulatory burden, obsolete measures or gaps in the legislative framework, interplay between different pieces of legislation, external factors)?

Degree to which the respective pieces of EU animal welfare legislation have had unintended effects.

The level of administrative burden related to monitoring and record-keeping.

The level of (further) intensification of the food production system.

Interviews; targeted survey, CBA study.

Quality of evidence: Medium

EU added value

·Is there added value in regulating the welfare of farmed animals at EU level rather than at national level?

5.1) What – if any – is the EU added value of the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals in relation to its main objectives? What are the strength and weaknesses of regulating animal welfare at EU level? To what extent is that legislation implementable?

Degree to which the respective pieces of EU animal welfare legislation have had results that could not have been (better) achieved by the Member States alone.

The level of harmonisation/approximation of increased animal welfare standards across the EU.

The level of fair(er) competition for EU farmers and other EU food business operators.

Interviews; literature.

Quality of evidence: Medium

Fitness Check questions

Relevance (To what extent is the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals an appropriate EU level response to animal welfare needs and other current and future needs?):

oWhat are the needs, interests and expectations of stakeholders - including farmers, consumers, business operators and competent authorities - and to what extent does the current EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals address them?

As regards farmers and other food business operators, see section 4.3.1.1 and Annex V (section 2.1) of the SWD, and the evidence presented there.

As regards consumers, see section 4.3.1.2 and Annex V (section 2.1) of the SWD, and the evidence presented there.

As regards Member States and their authorities, see sections 4.1.1 and 4.3.1.3 and Annex V (section 2.1) of the SWD, and the evidence presented there.

oDoes the EU legislation on animal welfare remain fit for purpose in the light of the latest developments and ongoing/future challenges?

In addition to section 4.3.2 of the SWD, and the evidence presented there:

Examples of scientific developments since the entry into force of the EU animal welfare legislation

Scientific studies carried out since the Directives and Regulations came into force put forward certain animal welfare issues that are not taken into account in the existing legislation.

Animal welfare at farm level

The default density requirements for broilers (33 kg per m²) in the legislation are not aligned with those in a 2000 EFSA opinion (25 kg per m²). This aspect, and the broader issue of caging, is also central to recent EFSA mandates, expected to be delivered in 2022 and 2023. Experts considered that the legislation does not account enough of the importance of manipulative material for pigs, and the benefit to pigs that would come from the generalised use of straw in pig farming while controlling for hygiene risks.

Animal welfare science has also progressed on the matter of animal tethering, the crating of sows, and the group housing of dairy calves.

We now have further evidence that birds have leg and other disorders because of the fast growth caused by genetic selection and ad libitum food provision, which causes poor welfare. The same goes for dairy cows, which, by producing large quantities of milk, have high levels of leg disorders, mastitis and reproductive disorders 365 .

There is also further evidence that beak trimming leads to chronic pain and lower animal welfare for laying hens 366 367 368 .

There is scientific evidence showing that sows suffer considerably from being confined and that pregnant sows suffer from hunger 369 , Council Directive 98/58/EC permits tie-still systems while there is evidence that cows suffer when tethered. Cows in tie-stall systems have higher mortality rates than in loose-housing systems 370 .

According to scientific evidence gathered in the context of the 2010 DG SANCO study, intensive production systems currently in use throughout the EU are associated with welfare issues (that persist, despite the existing EU animal welfare requirements):

·In the case of pigs - housing does not always meet the animals’ needs. Bored and frustrated animals can exhibit stress-related behaviour, such as biting the bars of their pens and biting the tails of other pigs. To prevent pigs from damaging each other, tail docking is common. Poor housing can also give rise to respiratory and foot problems.

·In the case of laying hens - poultry housing systems should allow laying hens to forage, peck and scratch the ground, dust bathe, and move away in search of a nest and roost. Even where these conditions are met, stress-related behaviour such as feather pecking still occurs. To prevent hens from damaging each other through this behaviour, beak trimming is common.

·In the case of broilers - The main welfare issues for broiler (meat) chickens are associated with selective breeding for fast growth, aggressive mating behaviour and restricted feeding.

·In the case of dairy cows - Long term genetic selection for high milk yield is the major factor causing poor welfare in dairy cows. Some of the most important aspects of poor welfare are disease conditions, in particular foot and leg disorders and mastitis. Reproductive and behavioural problems are also relevant indicators of poor welfare. 371

·In the case of farmed fish - Welfare of farmed fish remains a major concern for the European aquaculture industry. The main causes are to be found in environmental conditions (e.g. water quality), husbandry practices (e.g. feed and feeding regime), and the genetic make-up of the stocks.”

Animal welfare during transport


In general, the Regulation is based on a scientific opinion on the welfare of animals during transport adopted by the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Welfare on 11 March 2002. However, provisions in the Regulation which apply to transport time, resting time and space allowances were taken from the previous Directive from 1995, based on a scientific opinion from 1992 372 . Today, there is more scientific research which can assist to a better definition of the acceptable maximum journey times and recovery periods for the different species and ages of animals that are transported.

In 2010, in order to receive updated scientific evidence and to compile the present report, the Commission requested the EFSA to provide a scientific opinion on the welfare of animals during transport. The EFSA opinion was adopted on 2 December 2010 373 . In the conclusions of the opinion, scientists recognise that parts of the present Regulation – e.g. regarding thermal limits and training requirements –are not in line with current scientific knowledge, and point out specific areas where future research is recommended.

New scientific findings show that animal welfare tends to become worse as journey length increases 374 . Furthermore, more studies show that different species and age may respond very differently to the stress of transport. EFSA has suggested that animal welfare recommendations should be adapted to each type of animal 375 .

New studies allowed to determine the impact of transport on animal welfare more clearly. For example, poultry face an increased likelihood of increased mortality for any journey above 4 hours 376 . It has also been shown that effective temperature during transport has a major effect on the welfare and mortality rates of poultry and pigs 377 . Researchers also suggested that young calves are not well adapted to cope with transport, which leads to high rates of morbidity and mortality (both during and in the few weeks immediately following transport).

Scientific opinions from 1999 378 , 2004 379 , and 2011 380 already recommend to lay down species-specific temperature limits for at least some animals. Humidity should also be taken into account.

Animal welfare at the time of killing


Since the adoption of the Killing Regulation in 2009, there is more information on welfare hazards for animals at the time of killing and how to address them 381 . For example, EFSA’s 2020 scientific opinion on the welfare of pigs at slaughter identified a number of hazards, such as heat stress, prolonged hunger, and respiratory distress, that give rise to welfare issues 382 .

In 2012, EFSA reviewed relevant new scientific references on electrical stunning of poultry. Regarding waterbath stunning, scientific evidence suggests that when it is used, it is not possible to ensure that all birds are stunned 383 .

Furthermore, there have been scientific developments concerning the welfare of fish. There is scientific evidence to support the assumption that some fish species have brain structures potentially capable of experiencing pain and fear 384 . In 2009, EFSA published several opinions on the welfare aspects of the main systems of stunning and killing for the main fish species farmed in the EU 385 . These EFSA opinions have not been taken into account in the Killing Regulation. EFSA concluded that many of the methods and much of the equipment in use then resulted in poor fish welfare 386 . These scientific developments are also reflected in a Commission report on the possibility of introducing certain requirements regarding the protection of fish at the time of killing 387 .

Examples of national legislation adopted since the entry into force of the EU animal welfare legislation, going beyond EU requirements:

EU directive or regulation

Member State

Member State law

Year

Description

CR (EC) No 1/2005

(Transport)

Romania

Law no. 150 of 23 July 2020 on the protection of animals intended for export to third countries

2020

Export to Third Countries:

Sanitary-veterinary assistance services shall be provided on board the vessel

The veterinary medical staff has the following obligations:

a) performs the daily inspection of the animals regarding their health and welfare;

b) provides medical-veterinary assistance for the transported animals;

c) completes the daily report provided in the annex which is an integral part of this law.

CR (EC) No 1/2005

(Transport)

Germany

2021

The maximum transport time for animals to slaughter is 8 hours, and if the temperatures risk to rise over 30 degree max. 4,5 hours.

Calves < 28 days cannot be transported within Germany

These requirements came into force on 1 January 2022 with a transitional period of one year.

CR (EC) No 1/2005

(Transport)

Ireland

S.I. No. 356/2016 - Carriage of Livestock by Sea Regulations 2016

2016

Irish Regulation outlines specifications and equipment for vessels, covering stability requirements, fittings, design of pens/ stalls/ passageways for cattle and for sheep, electric power, ventilation, drainage, lighting, feed and water, veterinary equipment (medicines,

captive bolt pistol, etc.)

CR (EC) No 1099/2009

(Killing)

Luxembourg

June 27, Act to ensure the dignity, protection of life, safety and welfare of animals

2018

Prohibition to kill or have an animal killed unnecessarily

Obligation to rescue a suffering, injured or endangered animal

http://legilux.public.lu/eli/etat/leg/loi/2018/06/27/a537/jo

 

CD 1999/74/EC

(Laying hens)

Luxembourg

2007

Ban on enriched cages (in addition to a ban on conventional battery cages, as required by the Directive)

CD 1999/74/EC

(Laying hens)

Czechia

Amendment of Animal Protection Act

2020

Ban on cages for laying hens and laying breeders from 2027

http://eagri.cz/public/web/en/mze/

CD 98/58/EC

(General protection)

Germany

2020

"Ban on sow stalls (2028-2030) and

farrowing crates after 5 days (2035-2037)"

PowerPoint Presentation (animalwelfareintergroup.eu)

CD 2007/43/EC

(Chickens kept for meat production

Germany

Tierschutz-Nutztierverordnung

Buildings built after 2009 are required to have openings to provide natural light equal to 3% of the floored area. Flickering lights are explicitly not permitted. This means that in practice, lights providing at least 160 Hz are used

-> It is necessary to have alarms and power back-up systems to ensure the continued provision of food and water.

CD 2007/43/EC

(Chickens kept for meat production

Austria

-> Maximum stocking density is 30 kg/m2 (instead of 33 kg/m2.

-> Growers must comply with the requirements of Annexes I and III despite not stocking at higher densities.

CD 2007/43/EC

(Chickens kept for meat production

Sweden

-> Basic maximum stocking density is 20 kg/m2 (instead of 33 kg/m2).

-> Art. 3(5) is not taken up. Growers can progressively increase their stocking density from 20 kg/m2to a maximum of 36 kg/m2as long as they meet the requirements of the Animal Care Programme.

CD 2007/43/EC

(Chickens kept for meat production

Germany

Tierschutz-Nutztierverordnung

The derogation under Art. 3(5) is not taken up at all and producers must follow the requirements of Annex II, irrespective of the stocking density they use.

Netherlands

A number of Member States have introduced a scoring system for food pad dermatitis, the results from which form an additional criterion which must be met by growers. In the Netherlands for example, growers must achieve a score of less than 80 in order to use the derogation under Art. 3(5). (In other Member States, for example Denmark, Germany and Sweden, the breaching of trigger levels set against the FPD indicator can result in enforced reductions in stocking density).

Spain

In addition to the subjects set out in Annex IV of the Directive, training courses also cover the working of equipment and legislation on sanitary issues and animal welfare.

oTo what extent does the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals allow business operators to incorporate advances in science and innovation?

In the targeted survey, 36% of business or professional associations consider that the EU animal welfare legislation partially allows them to incorporate advances in science and innovation, but 27% replied that the legislation allows them to do so only mostly or totally (36% did not know).

Views expressed by stakeholders suggest that the EU animal welfare legislation does not support nor restrict business operators to incorporate advances from science and innovation. The main limitations to incorporate advances in science and innovation (such as digitalization) seems to result from economic concerns (innovations often result in higher costs).

Coherence (To what extent has the EU animal welfare legislation been coherent internally and with other EU and non-EU interventions related to Animal Welfare?):

2.1)    To what extent is the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals internally coherent, including all of their implementing acts? What, if any, are the inconsistencies, contradictions, unnecessary duplication, overlap or missing links between different pieces of animal welfare legislation? Are these leading to unintended results?

See section 4.1.3.1 of the SWD, and the evidence presented there.

2.2)    To what extent is the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals coherent with relevant OIE standards and other policy areas and pieces of legislation? What, if any, are the inconsistencies, contradictions, unnecessary duplications, overlaps or missing links between EU animal welfare legislation, OIE standards and related policies and pieces of legislation as actually implemented and enforced? Are these leading to unintended results?

In addition to section 4.1.3.2 of the SWD, and the evidence presented there, as regards the coherence between animal welfare and environmental policy:

Animal housing aspects with an impact on animal welfare can correlate also with the impact in terms of air pollution emissions. 39% of the ammonia emissions in the EU are from animal housing 388 , notably in-doors cattle, pigs and poultry. Main issues to consider in this respect are: manure management measures/techniques, livestock intensity, access to grazing/outdoor time and indoor air quality measures e.g. filters, air scrubbers. For these aspects, stricter animal welfare rules would also bring co-benefits in terms of reduced air pollution and contributions towards reaching the clean air objectives: reduced emissions/improved air quality (Directive (EU) 2016/2284; Directive 2008/50/EC). Improved animal welfare measures with clean air co-benefits will contribute to better indoor air quality thus less health hazards for farm workers; better outdoor quality (notably formation of secondary particulate matter from ammonia) with reduced negative health impacts including in European cities; and reduced pressure on ecosystems (reduced eutrophication) and thereby benefits for the Union’s biodiversity objectives.

Other clean air measures notably regarding floor structure (e.g. slatted floors) and choice of floor / bedding materials can risk having a negative impact on animal welfare; animal welfare measures to promote e.g. increased use of straw for pigs may need to be accompanied by sufficient requirements for proper manure management to ensure both hygiene/cleanliness and no increase in ammonia emissions.

Efficiency (To what extent has the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals been cost effective?):

3.1)    What are the quantifiable benefits, taking into account resources (cost, time etc.) to stakeholders, including consumers, farmers, business operators and competent authorities?

See section 4.1.2 and Annex VIII of the SWD, and the evidence presented there.

3.2)    What are the quantifiable burdens, taking into account resources (cost, time, etc.) to stakeholders, and are there aspects that could be simplified to improve efficiency?

See section 4.1.2 and Annex VIII of the SWD, and the evidence presented there.

3.3)    How cost efficient is the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals in ensuring animal welfare and in contributing to environmental objectives and a level playing field for EU business operators?

See section 4.1.2 and Annex VIII of the SWD, and the evidence presented there.

Effectiveness (To what extent has the EU animal welfare legislation delivered against its intended objectives?):

4.1)    To what extent has the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals contributed to and/or hindered:

- A more comprehensive and uniform protection of animals across species in the EU, including farmed fish? What are the key gaps to do more?

- The functioning of the EU market and a level playing field in the EU and at global level?

See section 4.1.1 of the SWD, and the evidence presented there.

·Rational production and a sustainable food chain?

See section 4.3.2.2 of the SWD, and the evidence presented there.

·Meeting societal demands?

See section 4.3.1.2 of the SWD, and the evidence presented there.

·Improving knowledge of key actors?

See section 4.1.1 of the SWD, and the evidence presented there.

4.2)    To what extent, why and in which aspects has the EU legislation for the welfare of farmed animals been difficult to comply with, taking into account also the interplay between different pieces of legislation including those governing animal production?

In addition to section 4.1.1 and Annex V (section 2.2) of the SWD, and the evidence presented there:

An interviewed business organisation stressed that the proper coordination of different legislative requirements (on animal welfare, animal health, food safety, environment etc.) should be done at EU level. Otherwise, it is up to the farmers to “coherently assemble them and comply with all of it”, and they are likely not prepared to do so, according to that organisation.

4.3)    To what extent is the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals effectively implemented across EU Member States (e.g. enforcement)?

See section 4.1.1 of the SWD, and the evidence presented there.

4.4)    What are the consequences or effects (whether socio-economic, environmental or health-related, both positive and negative) that were not originally planned (for instance, unnecessary regulatory burden, obsolete measures or gaps in the legislative framework, interplay between different pieces of legislation, external factors)?

Evidence of an unintended effect of the EU animal welfare legislation emerged from an interview with a business organisation representing farmers: The organisation claimed that the legislation has promoted a shift in business type from smaller to larger operations. This view is confirmed by the targeted survey, in which 80% (33 out of 41) of the respondents agreed (partially of fully) to such a statement.

EU added value (Is there added value in regulating the welfare of farmed animals at EU level rather than at national level?):

5.1)    What – if any – is the EU added value of the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals in relation to its main objectives? What are the strength and weaknesses of regulating animal welfare at EU level? To what extent is that legislation implementable?

See section 4.2 of the SWD, and the evidence presented there.

Annex IV. Overview of benefits and costs and Table on simplification and burden reduction

Farm level directives

Notes 389

Businesses (Farms)

Animal welfare

Consumers

Environment

Public Health

Public authorities

Mio. €/year

Qualitative

Qualitative

Qualitative

Qualitative

Qualitative

Mio. €/year

Qualitative

Pigs directive

Costs

Direct compliance costs 390

Total 404,9 391 392

Of which 393 :

One-off: 157,6

Recurrent: 247,3

Enforcement costs

8,2 394

Indirect costs

Benefits

Direct benefits

-/+ Manipulable material may reduce tail biting and thereby, lead to cost savings and increased revenue. This may (partially) offset

costs for provision of material.

-/+ Group housing has the potential to result in efficiency gains but this depends on the specific circumstances

0 Castration performed at younger age and not with analgesia/anaesthesia

-/0 Adjustment of slatted floors for weaner and rearing pigs only for minor share of farms

0 Floor area for weaner and rearing pigs corresponded to BAU

N.A. Dietary fibre

-/+ Loose material better than objects but not supplied to most pigs

+ Likely that AW has improved due to group housing of sows, but this depends on the individual characteristics of the group housing systems (which are not specified in the legislation) and on management

0 Castration is painful at any age, shift to younger age does not reduce the pain

+/0 Adjustment of slatted floors for weaner and rearing pigs required might have reduced injuries but was only required for minor share of farms

0 Floor area for weaner and rearing pigs corresponded to BAU

N.A. Dietary fibre

N.A. Effects of loose material on greenhouse gas emissions

-/+ Group housing of sows (depends on system and management)

0 Castration at younger age

0 Adjustment of slatted floors for weaner and rearing pigs still allowed for good drainage

0 Floor area for weaner and rearing pigs corresponded to BAU

N.A. Dietary fibre

-/+ Food safety: Manipulable material may transmit pathogens or contain undesirable substances; reduction of tail biting may reduce abscesses and stress-related shedding of food-borne pathogens

-/+ Group housing of sows (depends on system and management)

0 Castration at younger age

+/0 Adjustment of slatted floors for weaner and rearing pigs might have reduced injuries (food safety) but was only required for minor share of farms

0 Floor area for weaner and rearing pigs corresponded to BAU

N.A. Dietary fibre

Indirect benefits

+ There seems to be a slightly higher WTP related to some provisions (manipulable material, anaesthesia for castration, group housing of sows/gilts)

Laying hens directive

Costs

Direct compliance costs

Total 592,0 395 396

Of which 397

One-off: 440,0

Recurrent: 152,0

- Ban of unenriched cages, instead: enriched cages increased costs

- Requirements for unenriched cages during transitional period increased costs

-/0 Requirements for alternative systems increased costs but only applied to minor share of farms

- Beak trimming (age limit): evidence is limited but suggests cost increase

-/0 Ban of unenriched cages: management of floor eggs is decisive and can be challenging in enriched cages and even more in alternative systems

Enforcement costs

2,8 398

Indirect costs

Benefits

Direct benefits

+ price mark-ups for eggs from alternative systems

+ The potential to express species-specific behaviour is highest in alternative systems, followed by enriched cages while unenriched cages rank last. In contrast, the risk of adverse animal health outcomes related to infectious diseases, hygiene and parasite load is higher in alternative systems whereas both cage types rank equal in this regard. Management is a decisive factor for AW in all farming systems and as experience has accumulated over the years, similar mortality rates can be observed in indoor alternative systems and cage systems.

+ Requirements for unenriched cages during transitional period improved AW to limited extent

N.A. Alternative systems differed too much to evaluate AW effects

+/0 Beak trimming (age limit): positive effect for hot blade method, no effect for infrared which has evolved as preferred method

-/+ The risk of negative environmental impacts is higher in alternative systems and enriched cages but with appropriate mitigation strategies, emissions can be effectively reduced in these systems.

N.A. Requirements for unenriched cages during transitional period

N.A. Alternative systems differed too much to evaluate environmental effects

N.A. Beak trimming (age limit)

0 Nest eggs: egg shell contamination higher in alternative systems whereas no difference for unenriched/enriched cages, no difference in egg content contamination between systems

N.A. Requirements for unenriched cages during transitional period

N.A. Alternative systems differed too much to evaluate environmental effects

N.A. Beak trimming (age limit)

Indirect benefits

+ Support for a legal ban of cages has been expressed by share of consumers at different points in time, price mark-ups are paid for eggs from alternative systems

N.A. Requirements for unenriched cages during transitional period

N.A. Alternative systems differed too much to evaluate environmental effects

N.A. Beak trimming (age limit)

Calves directive

Costs

Direct compliance costs

One-off costs 399 :

42,1

(adjustment costs)

Costs depend on the type of farm (veal, beef, dairy) 400  

Enforcement costs

9,6 401

Indirect costs

Benefits

Direct benefits

+ Larger individual pens

+ Group housing (depending on additional management-related factors)

+/0 Hb threshold, only to be achieved on average

+ Roughage (depending on additional factors such as fibre source and particle size)

Indirect benefits

Broiler directive

Costs

Direct compliance costs

Total

35,8

Of which 402

One-off:

26,9

Recurrent:

8,9

Enforcement costs

N.A.

sporadic information could be obtained indicating that costs were limited

Indirect costs

Benefits

Direct benefits

+ Upper limit of stocking densities connected to climate and temperature has probably resulted in some (but limited) improvements of AW

+ Monitoring/follow-up at slaughterhouses (but differences between the MS are expected)

Indirect benefits



Transport regulation

Notes 403

Businesses 

(transport companies)

Animal welfare

Consumers

Environment

Public Health

Public authorities

Mio. €/year

Qualitative

Qualitative

Qualitative

Qualitative

Qualitative

Mio. €/year

Qualitative

Transport regulation

Costs

Direct compliance costs

Total 404 : 1726

Of which:

One off: 126

Recurrent: 1600

Of the one-off costs:

Administrative costs relate to: Approval of mean of transport, authorisation of transport

Of the recurrent costs:

Administative costs relate to record keeping (transport planning; disinfection register)

- Administrative costs of CAs increased by 5 to 15 % (survey by Baltussen et al. 2011)

Enforcement costs

14,0-15,0 405

0 56% of the MS have made no change in inspection and approval routines for means of transport (survey by Baltussen et al. 2011)

Indirect costs

Benefits

Direct benefits

N.A. Positive effects on revenues possible due to less injuries and bruises but it is not yet certain whether this has been achieved in practice

N.A. Positive effects are possible as some prerequisites for better AW were introduced but assessments using animal-based indicators are lacking as was also concluded by Baltussen and Wagenberg (2018)

-/+ Positive and negative evaluations of some of the provisions have been stated by consumers

+ 50 % of CAs surveyed by Baltussen et al. (2011) indicate benefits in control activities due to navigation system

Indirect benefits

Killing Regulation

Notes 406

Businesses (slaughterhouses)

Animal welfare

Consumers

Environment

Public Health

Public authorities

Mio. €/year

Qualitative

Qualitative

Qualitative

Qualitative

Qualitative

Mio. €/year

Qualitative

Killing regulation

Costs

Direct compliance costs

23,0 – 49,0 407

-/+ Revenues due to carcass quality (PSE, haemorrhages)

- Animal welfare officers, SOPs, certification of staff, equipment increased costs

 

Enforcement costs

One-off:

1,9 (adjustment costs)

Recurrent: 6,5 (adjustment costs for reference networks, certification, reporting duties 408

Adjustment costs for certification of staff can be partially recovered from businesses (slaughterhouses) via fees

In addition:

No cost estimate for authorisation of new stunning/ killing methods. But evidence that this can be recovered from businesses (slaughterhouses) via fees 409

Indirect costs

Benefits

TABLE 2: Simplification and burden reduction (savings already achieved) 

Report any simplification, burden reduction and cost savings achieved already by the intervention evaluated, including the points of comparison/ where available (e.g. REFIT savings predicted in the IA or other sources). 

Citizens/Consumers/Workers

Businesses

Administrations

[Other…] _ specify

Quantitative

Comment

These groups are not targeted by the EU animal welfare legislation.

Quantitative

Comment

More harmonised rules for slaughterhouses, including common technical specifications, allowed for equipment to be produced in a more standardised way, hence becoming less costly for slaughterhouses.

Quantitative

Comment

More harmonised rules allowed for official controls to be distributed among the Member States, e.g. for cross-border animal transports where the inspection before departure in one Member State is valid along the entire journey.

Quantitative

Comment

Type: One-off / recurrent (select)

One-off

Recurrent

PART II: II Potential simplification and burden reduction (savings)

Identify further potential simplification and savings that could be achieved with a view to make the initiative more effective and efficient without prejudice to its policy objectives 410 .

Citizens/Consumers/Workers

Businesses

Administrations

[Other…] _ specify

Quantitative

Comment

These groups are not targeted by the EU animal welfare legislation.

Quantitative

Comment

Further harmonisation, and a greater digitalisation of procedures, e.g. for monitoring and reporting, could bring simplifications and further burden reductions for businesses, in the areas of welfare at farm, transport and slaughter. Provisions could also be made less complex and better adapted to SME’s such as. small slaughterhouses, (for which e.g. the requirement of recording the electrical parameters for head only stunning may be disproportionally cumbersome).

Quantitative

Comment

Further harmonisation, and a further digitalisation, could simplify official controls on farms, on animal transports and in slaughterhouses, and reduce the administrative burden for the Member States’ competent authorities (for instance by creating an on-line system for the authorisation and monitoring of animal transports).

Quantitative

Comment

Description:…

Type:  One-off / recurrent (select)

Recurrent

Recurrent

Annex V. Stakeholder Consultation - Synopsis Report

Introduction

This synopsis report provides an overview of the results of the consultation activities carried out in the context of the fitness check supporting the revision of the EU animal welfare legislation under the Farm to Fork Strategy.

1.Consultation strategy

Overview of consultation activities

In line with the stakeholder consultation’s strategy, the fitness check entailed the following consultation activities:

·roadmap published for stakeholders’ feedback;

·targeted interviews;

·targeted survey and data requests;

·public consultation;

·stakeholders’ conference.

The fitness check roadmap was published for feedback on 20 May 2020 to 29 July 2020. Feedback was received by 172 respondents, representing industry, trade unions, NGO’s and citizens (of which many German and Italian).

A total of 10 targeted interviews were conducted with stakeholders from farm to fork, (i.e. organisations representing farmers, processors/transporters and retailers), as well as a consumers’ organisation. These mainly exploratory interviews, which were held from 23 April 2021 to 6 July 2021, aimed in particular at collecting evidence on the costs and benefits linked to the EU animal welfare legislation. In addition, interviews were held from 23 July 2021 to 23 November 2021 with an animal welfare NGO, a professional organisation representing veterinarians and a senior Commission official in DG SANTE. These interviews were mainly focusing on the developments since the adoption of the EU animal welfare legislation, to compensate for the lack of historical (and current) animal welfare indicators. The interview guides are included in Annex VII.

A targeted survey was distributed on 7-8 October 2021 to the Members of the EU Animal Welfare Platform and EFSA’s Farm to Fork experts’ working group and aimed to collect views on the fitness of the current EU animal welfare requirements. In total, 41 replies were received, of which 14 representing the Member States, 11 representing a business/professional organisation, 10 representing an NGO and 6 were independent scientific experts. The survey questionnaire is included in Annex VII.

The public consultation ran from 15 October 2021 to 21 January 2022, with a total of 59 281 contributions received.

A Stakeholder Conference was organised on 9 December 2021. The conference provided an an occasion for stakeholders to validate the preliminary findings of the Fitness Check, as well as to elaborate on possible improvements for the future. Almost 500 stakeholders, representing e.g. Member States, NGO’s, academia, SME’s and international organisations, participated in the discussions.

The fitness check engaged around 60 000 stakeholders through the described activities. Further details on the specific groups of stakeholders who provided data, views and experiences for fitness check of the EU animal welfare legislation are provided below.

The fitness check conducted a quantitative and qualitative analysis of information gathered through the different consultation activities. The quantitative analysis included a statistical analysis of the results of the public consultation and the targeted survey All concerned stakeholder categories were reached throughout the various consultation activities and all expressed views were analysed and taken into account as part of the evidence-base of the fitness check.

The analysis of the evidence from consultation activities was conducted first at the level of individual data collection tools. Then, to the extent possible DG SANTE triangulated the data with data coming from the literature review, to produce the answers to the fitness check’s evaluation questions and developing overarching conclusions and recommendations.

Stakeholders consulted

Table “Stakeholders engaged per consultation activity” provides an overview of stakeholders consulted as part of the fitness check. The breakdown of stakeholders evidences that the consultation aimed to collect different perspectives on the issues under assessment.

Stakeholders engaged per consultation activity

Consultation activity

Stakeholder group

Nr of stakeholders targeted

Nr of stakeholders responding

Level of engagement

Public consultation

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs); EU and non-EU citizens; public authorities; academic/research institutions; company and business organisations; business associations; consumer organisations; trade unions; other

N/A

59 281

Very high

Interviews

Commission DGs (SANTE); farmers; food processors, retailers, consumers, veterinarians and animal welfare NGO’s

10

10

High

Targeted survey and information request

Business organisations, professional organisations, public authorities, animal welfare NGO´s, academia (inlcuding EFSA’s expert group on the Farm to Fork Strategy)

100

41

Medium

Stakeholders’ conference

Stakeholders from all groups

654 (registered)

498

High

Feedback on the fitness check roadmap

NGOs; EU and non-EU citizens; business associations; company/business organisations; trade unions; public authorities; research institutions

N/A

172

Medium

Consultation challenges

Some challenges emerged during the consultation activities. These can be summarised as follows:

1.Analysis of public consultation results: The very high number of replies received (59 281) made it challenging to get a comprehensive picture of the outcome of the public consultation. The European Commission’s IT tool “CODA” was used to identify campaigns and duplicate contributions.

2.Evidence provided by stakeholders during interviews: For the reasons of trade secrecy and a lack of pan-European data, stakeholders were not always in a position to share detailed information on their sector’s business activities and market share. As a result, the consultation activities produced limited evidence as regards the costs of compliance with the EU animal welfare legislation. However, this was to a large extent compensated by the data gathered by the external contractor for the cost-benefit analysis performed in support of the fitness check.

The challenges emerging from the public and targeted consultations were addressed by discussing and validating the fitness check findings with scientific experts and stakeholders. For instance, the preliminary findings of the fitness check were presented in the meetings if the EU Animal Welfare Platform on 22 June 2021 and 10 November 2021, as well as at the stakeholder’s conference on 9 December 2021.

2.Consultation results

The results of the various stakeholder consultation activities are presented below per criterion.

RELEVANCE 

To what extent is the EU animal welfare legislation (still) relevant?

While stakeholders across all sectors consider that the EU animal welfare was relevant at the time of its adoption, based on the based available scientific knowledge of that day, the similarly consider that the current rules are outdated today in light of societal and scientific developments.

In the public consultation, a vast majority (87% - 51 551 of 59 281) of stakeholders did not consider the current EU animal welfare legislation fit to meet the future challenges in relation to sustainable food production, such as climate change and biodiversity loss.

This contrasted to some extent with the targeted survey where 85% (35 of 41) of the stakeholders consider that the existing EU animal welfare legislation mostly or partially meets citizens’ expectations on a sustainable food production. However, in the targeted survey, one representative from the academic sector pointed out that welfare may not always equal sustainability. As example was mentioned that organic chickens are kept for longer and roam outside hence they use more feed per kg meat produced and this feed may contain imported ingredients with high carbon footprint.

It also emerged from the survey that the EU legislation is outdated. For instance, one Member State (Germany) considered that “Farm animal husbandry regarding the legal standard is becoming less and less accepted in society. This criticism varies in the member states and has led to different national legal standards, e.g. piglet production. This leads to distortions of competition at the producer level. Therefore, husbandry, transport and slaughter conditions should be tightened and harmonized at EU level.”

Similarly, in one of the interviews, one of the professional organisations representing veterinarians expressed that: “Most of the issues that were relevant 10 years ago are somehow still relevant today. Also, there was no new legislation for quite some time while at the same time the societal expectations on animal welfare have increased and, on top of this, there are all the scientific developments, most of which are still relevant or even more relevant today.”

Another interviewed organisation representing farmers suggested that: “The animal welfare that we had 40 years ago is not the same that consumers and society are demanding now, in 2021, and therefore the EU legislation needs to adapt to this new reality. However, time is needed for these changes, because one of the biggest impacts animal welfare has is in the structure of the production sector. The increase on costs and on the investment needed in the farm leads many small farmers to stop production.”

Today, citizens pay increasing attention to animal welfare in the EU, but consumers lack appropriate information on animal welfare. Price is still very important and consumers are often not willing to pay for animal welfare. This emerged from the consultation activities, including the public consultation where a majority (65%-84%) felt or strongly felt that they are not sufficiently informed about the conditions under which animals are farmed, transported and slaughtered in the EU (this is reflected in the targeted survey, where the corresponding figure was even higher: 90%).

In the targeted survey, a business/professional organisation expressed that: “The benefit that the high standards of animal welfare could bring are hindered by the fact that consumers are insufficiently aware of current EU standards. There is an urgent need to focus on consumer information to make the consumers aware of the current high standards that are already in place across Europe.”

In the interviews, one business organisation representing food processors expressed the following: “What we see is that there is an increasing interest from the consumers and citizens for animal welfare, but we don’t see that yet in the market. We don’t see a return on investment in additional welfare from the consumers yet, there is not enough consumer awareness and there is a huge lack of information. Consumers are not even aware of current standards, so they don’t know what they are paying for today and we also see a lag in that they are not willing to pay extra for increased animal welfare as it is for the moment, not when we look at market figures.”

Also ethical concerns were raised in the consultation activities. For instance, the public feedback received in 2020 on the Roadmap of the Fitness Check included calls for a ban on the killing of male animals of laying breeds, in line with current ethical concerns.

EFFECTIVENESS

How effectively does the EU animal welfare legislation operate in practice and which shortcomings remain to further improving animal welfare?

Stakeholders’ views suggests an improvement of animal welfare – and in the level playing field of EU business operators – if compared to the situation before the entry into force of the current EU animal welfare rules. However, more could be achieved according to the consulted stakeholders.

For instance, less than half of the stakeholders believed (36%) or strongly believed (7%) that increased animal welfare has so far contributed to a more sustainable food system, for instance by allowing healthier animals to enter the food chain.

In the public consultation, almost half of the stakeholders agreed (45% - 24 461 of 59 281) or strongly agreed (3% - 1 616 of 59 281) with the claim that compared to 25 years ago, there is more uniform protection of farmed animals across EU countries. This view was even stronger among business associations and companies.

However, an overwhelming majority (92 % - 54 504 of 59 281) of respondents thought that the current EU animal welfare legislation does not ensure adequate and uniform protection of all animal species in need. In addition, a majority of stakeholders (66% - 39 024 of 59 281) believed the legislation does not ensure that businesses can compete fairly across the EU.

As a means to improve animal welfare in the EU:

·92% considered it important (7%, 3 859 of 59 281) or very important (85%, 50 681 of 59 281) to provide better information to consumers on animal welfare conditions;

·91% considered it important (13%, 7 441 of 59 281) or very important (78%, 45 989 of 59 281) to increase the use of scientific indicators to better assess the welfare of animals, such as injury rates;

·91% considered it important (9%, 5 435 of 59 281) or very important (82%, 48 766 of 59 281) to improve the training for people handling animals, such as farmers, slaughterhouse staff and drivers.

(Lack of) competence of animal handlers seems to have an important role, according to stakeholders, for the compliance with the legislation. It appears from the targeted survey that less than 15% of the stakeholders manage to fully comply with the current EU legislation on animal welfare at farm level. A majority (67%) considered insufficient knowledge and training of the farm operators to be a relevant or very relevant factor for this (with the exception of transport, where only 40% considered lack of competence to be a relevant or very relevant reason).

In the public consultation, a majority (59% - 31 944 of 59 281) of stakeholders believed or strongly believed that rules and requirements on animal welfare are (too) complex for consumers to understand. This problem of vagueness/lack of specificity is also reflected in the interviews. For instance, by a professional organization (FVE), as follows: “In some cases, the legislation is not 100% clear and that makes enforcement difficult. (…) The general farming directive lacks clarity and leaves room for wide interpretations”.

Most stakeholders argue that open norms such as “appropriate” and “sufficient” cause differences in application that create problems for EU food business operators in different Member States, as well as pose a challenge to enforcement. However, some business organisations consider that the legislation – at least on slaughter – is clear enough, and that some rules “can be so specific that it becomes ridiculous” (e.g. as regards the maximum gap of 18 mm in a slatted floor for pigs). One interviewed NGO considered that “we think that improving clarity and clarifying the regulation is not enough”, there must also be a “better enforcement and an implementation system that is more systematic.”

The problem of vague provisions extends to all legislative acts on animal welfare. For instance, the public feedback received on the Fitness Check Roadmap in 2020 included calls for a better differentiation of responsibilities between farmers, drivers and transport companies in the Transport Regulation.

In the public consultation, an overwhelming majority (92 % - 54 504 of 59 281) of stakeholders thought that the current EU animal welfare legislation does not ensure adequate and uniform protection of all animal species in need.

Similarly, it was suggested by stakeholders in the targeted survey that the legislation has failed to protect a wider range of species. This because of a lack of species-specific provisions for e.g. dairy cows, rabbits, turkeys and companion animals. One consumer organisation stressed that more attention needs to be paid to fish welfare, as this is an area of growing interest for consumers. The matter of fish welfare at the time of killing was prominent in the public feedback received on the Fitness Check Roadmap in 2020 as well as in the stakeholders’ conference on 9 December 2021.

The feedback received on the Roadmap of the Fitness Check contained similar suggestions, calling for turkeys, quail, ducks, geese, pullets and parent stock to ether be included in the current Broilers Directive or be subject to separate legislation.

This lack of species-specific requirements is also addressed in the interviews. According to one NGO, this is a problem for the farm level legislation as well as for the legislation on animal transport (e.g. of fish) and slaughter (also here, fish welfare) is referred to. One professional organisation mentioned the welfare of companion animals as an “extremely important” issue for consumer, and an area where there are many welfare problems. 

Judging from the targeted survey, only a very small part of the stakeholders consider that they manage to fully comply with the current EU legislation on animal welfare at farm level (17%, 7 of 41), during transport 12% (5 of 41) and at the time of killing (15%, 6 of 41). Of the stakeholders that provided a reason for this, 67% (10 of 15) considered insufficient knowledge and training of the farm operators to be a relevant or very relevant factor (for transport 40%, 6 of 15, and for slaughter 67%, 8 of 12).

The role of competence gained by practical experience was raised in the interviews. It was stressed by one business organisation representing the producers that although “the training of the workers does not improve directly or by default their safety when working with the animals, the management of the animals needs to be learned practically, on a daily basis, and this practical knowledge and skills are dependent on different factors, for instance animal genetics (some sub-species are more aggressive than others) or individual reactions”.

Problems related to enforcement emerged in all consultation activities. In interviews, stakeholders suggested a lack of animal welfare indicators as a reason behind problems of compliance by operators and enforcement by the competent authorities. Reference was made to mortality rates during transport but also to the level of use of antimicrobials. One professional organisation considered that good indicators exist but that these are not collected and measured consistently enough.

The public feedback received on the Fitness Check Roadmap included calls for more systematic checks of foot-pad-dermatitis and other animal welfare indicators. It also contained suggestions to require remote close-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance in all slaughterhouses.

In the targeted survey, one business/professional organisation suggested that focus should be put on a more uniform enforcement rather than overregulation. An NGO deplored the differences in sanctions applied by the Member States in cases of non-compliance, which they considered to contribute to a distortion of competition for EU business operators.

EFFICIENCY

To what extent has the EU animal legislation delivered the expected benefits at proportionate costs, and what have been the administrative burdens for business operators complying with the legislation?

In the targeted survey, a vast majority (73% - 30 of 41) of the stakeholders would at least partially agree that the EU animal welfare legislation has led to increased costs, borne mainly by producers, without a sufficient market return (only 12%, or 5 of 45 would totally disagree to this). This is consistent with views expressed in the stakeholders’ conference on 9 December 2021. However, one interviewed organisation (representing the consumers) considered benefits of the legislation to be higher than the costs, especially since “the negative impacts of not complying are also costly and shouldn’t be underestimated”.

In the interviews with business organisations, reference is made to costs for infrastructure as well as for training and administration (e.g. related to licenses and authorizations, which must be obtained for the necessary farm adaptations required by law). One organisation also referred to the costs related to reputational damage following an animal welfare problem reported in the media.

One interviewed organisation representing producers had estimated that the cost of compliance with the Pigs Directive amounted (in 2013) to around 300-350 euro per sow. Another example provided, from the poultry sector, suggested that the EU animal welfare legislation has led to an increase of 2-3% of the costs per kilo of live bird (since stocking densities has been decreased). One business organisation suggested that the current administrative requirements, related to the keeping of records, are counter-productive to the welfare of animals. Another business organisation suggested that the restrictions for tail-docking of pigs have increased the cost of pig farming by 20%.

In the public consultation a clear majority (72% - 42 901 of 59 281) did not consider that complying with the EU animal welfare legislation is too burdensome and/or costly for producers, such as farmers. Similarly, a vast majority (73% - 43 292 of 59 281) did not consider that the current EU animal welfare legislation is disproportionally burdensome and/or costly for SME’s, such as small slaughterhouses, transporters and retailers. In the stakeholders’ conference on 9 December, a vast majority (79%) of stakeholders were against the introduction of derogations for small slaughterhouses.

However, the views on this matter expressed by companies and business organisations differ a lot from the ones above. In the public consultation, only 25% (165 of 660) would agree that the current EU animal welfare legislation is not too burdensome and/or costly for farmers. And only 26% (173 of 660) would agree that the current EU animal welfare legislation is not disproportionally burdensome and/or costly for SME’s. Furthermore, in the targeted survey one NGO suggested that the EU animal welfare legislation could “play against small-scale farmers who have to implement infrastructure, equipment and administration that is modelled on larger scale types of businesses, which other scale of human and capital resources”.

Among the benefits of the EU animal welfare legislation, the interviewed stakeholders referred to increased product yields and increased product quality, better worker safety and a better work environment. Also an increased job satisfaction was mentioned.

However, in the targeted survey one business/professional organisation suggested that the benefits that the high standards of animal welfare could bring are “hindered by the fact that consumers are insufficiently aware of current EU standards”. Another organisation underlined that the citizens' expectations are widely different among Member States.

COHERENCE

How does the EU animal welfare legislation interact with other EU legislation and policy areas, such as trade, environment and agriculture?

In the targeted survey, more stakeholders agreed (49%, 20 of 41) than disagreed (34%, 14 of 41) that the different pieces of EU animal welfare legislation, regulating welfare at farm, during transport, and at slaughter, are generally internally consistent and complementary, and that there are synergies between the different areas. However, one NGO pointed to certain inconsistencies between the Farming Directive (Annex I, Point and 17) and the Transport Regulation (Article 3(h) in connection with Annex I, Chapter VI, point 2.1).

A majority (56%, 23 of 41) however consider current EU animal welfare legislation to be inconsistent with other EU policy areas. The main areas for which such inconsistencies were identified are environment policy, public health policy, agriculture and trade.

This is reflected in the stakeholder interviews, where e.g. one professional organisation referred to the discrepancies between the Transport Regulation and the EU social legislation on the drivers’ resting times. While the EU animal health legislation and the OIE standards were generally considered coherent, a better coordination with the CAP, trade policy and environment policy was suggested. One business organisation suggested that this coordination should be done at EU level, since requirements from different policy areas “arrive at the farm level and the farmers are the ones that need to coherently assemble them and comply with all of it”.

As for the relationship with the environmental policy, one interviewed business organisation pointed to necessary trade-offs: If imposing lower stock densities, there is a need to occupy bigger areas in order to maintain the same output in terms of production, and using slow growing breeds will imply higher consumption of feed and water. As for agricultural policy, it emerged from the stakeholders conference on 9 December 2021 that while the most important support measure for animal welfare is the CAP (followed by advice and training for farmers), full use is currently not made of its tools. As for trade policy, an overwhelming majority (95%) of the stakeholders at the conference on 9 December 2021 considered that the same or equivalent animal welfare standards should apply to imports.

EU ADDED VALUE

To what extent has the EU animal welfare legislation provided EU added value in terms of animal welfare and a more level playing field for EU business operators?

In the targeted survey, one business/professional organisation suggested that the EU animal welfare legislation has obliged some Member States to increase welfare standards in their national legislation; hence the protection level was raised and more harmonized across the EU. Or, as expressed in the interview with a professional organisation representing veterinarians: “EU animal welfare legislation has contributed to protection of farmed animals, better health, and a better functioning of the EU market, because if the EU would have not stepped in, every country would have its own legislation. (…) If there was no EU legislation, we would have had much bigger differences, so EU legislation absolutely contributed to the degree of harmonization observed. I definitely think it leads to convergence across the EU.”

Similarly, another interviewed organisation, representing farmers, considered that “the EU legislation creates a clear baseline for all Member States from where they can depart. (…) When there are different legislations in different countries, it creates problems for the farmers.” 

Annex VI. Intervention Logic 

Annex VII. Questionnaires used for interviews and the targeted survey

Fitness Check - EU animal welfare legislation

Exploratory interviews - stakeholders

Contextualization

The questionnaire addresses the following pieces of animal welfare legislation:

·Council Directive 98/58/EC concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes; 

·Council Directive 1999/74/EC laying down minimum standards for the protection of laying hens;

·Council Directive 2007/43/EC laying down minimum rules for the protection of chickens kept for meat production;

·Council Directive 2008/120/EC laying down minimum standards for the protection of pigs;

·Council Directive 2008/119/EC laying down minimum standards for the protection of calves;

·Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport;

·Council Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing.

Questionnaire

Question number

Body of questions

Q. 1

Did EU animal welfare legislation address existent needs and problems when the different legislative acts were adopted and does it still adequately address those problems?

oWhich were/are the main needs and problems? Were/are there different problems affecting areas of welfare of animals at farm, during transport and at slaughter?

oWas there an evolution of those needs in the latest 10 years? How? Did such evolution affect animal welfare?

oIs the existing legislation still able to address the problems in the different areas, considering the ongoing and future developments, including scientific and technological progress? Why (not)?

Q. 2

Do you consider that the EU animal welfare legislation has contributed to and/or hindered a) better protection of farmed animals in the EU, including their health, and b) better functioning of the EU market and a level playing field (inside and outside the EU)?    

oWhy (not)?

oAre there any external factors (such as e.g. trade policy) which hampered the achievement of such objectives?

Q. 3

Do you consider that the current EU animal welfare legislation (at farm level, during transport, and at the time of killing) lacks clarity?

oHow so? Are there any specific examples?

oIf yes, what problems does lack of clarity create and/or has it created in terms of animal welfare and/or competition?

Q. 4

Do you consider that the current EU legislation on animal welfare is difficult to comply with and/or implement?

·Why (not)?

·Is EU animal welfare legislation effectively implemented across EU Member States? Why (not)?

·Do you consider that there are differences in compliance with EU animal welfare legislation among Member States?

·If yes, do you consider these problematic? Why (not)?

Q. 5

Do you consider that EU legislation on animal welfare contributes to the convergence of animal welfare standards across the EU?

·How and to what extent?

·If yes, do you consider such convergence a positive outcome of EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals? Why (not)?

·What are the strengths and/or weaknesses of having animal welfare legislation at EU level?

Q. 6

Do you consider that there is sufficient consistency between the different pieces of animal welfare legislation at EU level, i.e. regulating welfare at farm, slaughter and during transport?

1.Why (not)?

2.Could you identify and describe any inconsistencies and/or synergies?

3.If yes, do they lead to inefficiencies and which?

4.If yes, what are the effects of such inefficiencies?

Q. 7

Do you consider that there is sufficient consistency of EU animal welfare legislation with OIE standards?

·Why (not)?

·Could you identify and describe any inconsistencies and/or synergies?

·If yes, do they lead to inefficiencies and which?

·What are the effects of such inefficiencies?

Q. 8

Do you consider that there is sufficient consistency of EU animal welfare legislation with other related EU policies/legislations, such as environmental, agricultural, and public/animal health (e.g. trade-offs as regards green house gas emissions)?

·Why (not)?

·Could you identify any inconsistencies and/or synergies?

·If yes, do they lead to inefficiencies and which?

·What are the effects of such inefficiencies?

Q. 9

In your view, what have been the prominent costs and benefits (from a social, economic, and environmental perspective) linked to the implementation of the current EU animal welfare legislation?

Differentiate between intensive vs. less intensive production systems if relevant

·Do you think that costs and benefits are equally distributed across the stakeholder groups (i.e. farmers, processors, retailers and consumers)?

·Who is bearing the highest costs and who is getting highest benefits? Please justify your replies, by providing figures if possible.

Q. 10

Does animal welfare legislation put EU operators at a competitive disadvantage in relation to non-EU operators?

oIf yes, on which products?

oTo what extent? Can you quantify it (e.g. market share)?

Q. 11

In general, are practices and procedures required by EU animal welfare legislation too burdensome for stakeholders?

·If yes, is it a matter of quantity, complexity or a combination of both?

·If yes, in which aspects is it burdensome?

·If yes, for which stakeholders in particular?

Q. 12

Do you consider that citizens/consumers are sufficiently aware about the mandatory animal welfare standards imposed by EU legislation?

oPlease justify your answer and provide concrete examples if possible.

oIs citizen/consumer awareness a relevant factor? Why (not)?

oHas the demand for high animal welfare products been evolving (e.g. sales volumes, prices of certain AW friendly products) in the last 10 years?

oDo you think citizens/consumers also equate higher animal welfare standards with other benefits (e.g. product quality, public/individual health, etc.)?

Targeted survey for members of
the EU Animal Welfare Platform

In 2020, the European Commission adopted the Farm to Fork Strategy (F2F), to promote a shift towards a sustainable food system .

Animal welfare is a cornerstone of sustainable food production. Therefore, under the F2F, the European Commission committed to revise the current EU animal welfare legislation by 2023, and to consider options for animal welfare labelling. The purpose is to ensure a higher level of animal welfare and to broaden the scope of the respective legislation by aligning it with the latest scientific evidence, current political priorities, and citizens’ expectations while making EU animal welfare legislation easier to enforce.

The EU legislation under review consists of a Directive concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes and four Directives laying down minimum standards for the protection of laying hens , broilers , pigs and calves ; one Regulation on animal transport and one Regulation on the protection of animals at the time of killing .

This EU legislation regulates animal welfare at farm level, during transport and at slaughter, and covers animals – including fish – bred and kept for farming purposes, as well as cats and dogs. It does not cover wild animals, experimental or laboratory animals (with exception for their welfare during transport and protection at the time of killing for depopulation purposes).

The objective of this legislation is to improve the welfare of farmed animals while ensuring sustainable production and fair competition for EU business operators within the single market.

In 2020, the European Commission initiated an evaluation (fitness check) of the existing animal welfare legislation at EU level. In the context of this exercise, the Commission has undertaken a consultation of stakeholders in order to substantiate the ongoing revision.

The present survey aims at gathering further views and experiences from the members of the EU Animal Welfare Platform, in relation to the current EU acquis, with a view identify opportunities for its revision.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

I am replying on behalf of:

·

Myself/ Independent Expert

·

A Member State

·

Sub-question: Which MS?

·

An EEA country

·

Sub-question: Which country?

·

An academic/research institution

·

An international organisation

·

A business or professional association

·

A consumer organisation

·

A non-governmental organisation (NGO)

·

I want to remain anonymous

Q1: Compared to prior to its adoption, to what extent has the existing EU animal welfare legislation contributed to and/or hindered:

Strongly contributed to

Relatively contributed to

Contributed little to

Did not contribute to

Hindered

Do not know/ Cannot answer

A better protection of farmed animals in the EU

The protection of a wider range of animal species

A harmonised implementation of animal welfare standards across the EU

A better functioning of the EU market

A levelled playing field in the EU for business operators

Other(s):

Open box: Please provide, if you can, any relevant examples, data or evidence in support of your above assessment.

Q2: In your view, to what extent does the existing EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals meet citizens’ expectations on a sustainable food production?

Not at all

Partially

Mostly

Totally

Do not know/ Cannot answer

If not TOTALLY, which are the unmet expectations?

Q3: To what extent does the existing EU animal welfare legislation provide sufficient information to consumers to make sustainable food choices as regards the below?

Not at all

Partially

Totally

Do not know/ Cannot answer

Farming conditions

Transport conditions

Slaughter conditions

Q4: To what extent does the existing EU animal welfare legislation allow business operators (farmers, slaughter houses, transporters etc.) to incorporate advances in science and innovation – e.g. as regards digitalisation – in their daily activities?

Not at all

Partially

Mostly

Totally

Do not know/ Cannot answer

Q5: To what extent would you agree to the following statements?

Not at all

Partially

Mostly

Totally

Do not know/ Cannot answer

The EU animal welfare legislation has promoted a shift in business type, from smaller to larger operations.

The EU animal welfare legislation has led to increased costs, borne mainly by producers, without a sufficient market return.

Animal welfare is an important “selling point” to most third countries.

Q6: Regarding the different pieces of EU animal welfare legislation, regulating welfare at farm, during transport, and at slaughter, are the provisions contained current EU legislation consistent/complementary and are there synergies between the different areas (e.g. Council Directive 98/58/EC vs. Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005)?

·

Yes

·

No

·

Do not know

IF NO, please explain which inconsistencies, by referring to the concrete cases/pieces of legislation:

Q7: Is the current EU animal welfare legislation consistent with other EU policy areas, for instance as regards environmental legislation (e.g. density requirements vs building permits and use of more land)?

·

Yes

·

No

·

Do not know

IF NO, with which areas were inconsistencies found? (Multiple options can be indicated)

Public health

·

Animal Health

·

Environment

·

Agriculture

·

Trade

·

Other(s):

·

Please specify, if possible, by giving examples and referring to the concrete cases/pieces of legislation:

Q8: To what extent do you/ the organisation or sector that you represent manage to comply with the current EU legislation on animal welfare at farm level?

Not at all

Partially

Mostly

Totally

Do not know/ Not applicable

·

·

·

·

·

If not TOTALLY, how relevant are the below reasons for the existent compliance issues?

Not relevant

Somewhat relevant

Relevant

Very relevant

Do not know/ Cannot answer

Unclear provisions (e.g. “routine” tail-docking)

Requirements not species- specific enough (e.g. Directive 98/58/EC)

Highly complex set of different requirements

Insufficient knowledge/training of operators

Lack of control resources (e.g. financial, staff, equipment)

Lack of cooperation between competent authorities in different Member States

Other(s):

Q9: To what extent do you/ the organisation or sector that you represent manage to comply with the current EU legislation on the protection of animals during transport difficult?

Not at all

Partially

Mostly

Totally

Do not know/ Not applicable

If not TOTALLY, how relevant are the below reasons for the difficulties in compliance identified?

Not relevant

Somewhat relevant

Relevant

Very relevant

Do not know/ Cannot answer

Unclear provisions (e.g. roles and responsibilities of transporters and organizers; legal loopholes )

Requirements not species- specific enough

Highly complex set of different requirements

Insufficient knowledge/training of operators

Lack of control resources (e.g. financial, staff, equipment)

Lack of cooperation between competent authorities in different Member States

Other(s):

Q10: To what extent do you / the organisation or sector that you represent manage to comply with the current EU animal legislation on the protection of animals at the time of killing?

Not at all

Partially

Mostly

Totally

Do not know/ Not applicable

If not TOTALLY, how relevant are the below reasons for the difficulties in compliance identified?

Not relevant

Somewhat relevant

Relevant

Very relevant

Do not know/ Cannot answer

Unclear provisions (e.g. “adequate” thermal conditions)

Highly complex set of different requirements

Requirements not species- specific enough

Insufficient knowledge/training of operators

Lack of control resources (e.g. financial, staff, equipment)

Lack of cooperation between competent authorities in different Member States

Other(s):

Q11: Do you consider that the requirements of Council Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009, and specifically the ones relating to monitoring requirements, could be simplified for small and local slaughterhouses without compromising animal welfare standards?

·

Yes

·

No

Please specify, if possible, by giving examples/experiences with the application of such requirements by SME’s:

IF YES, in which area(s) do you think that the current requirements could be simplified?

Not important

Somewhat important

Important

Do not know/ Cannot answer

Monitoring and registration

Indication in pens of date/time of arrival

Calibration of equipment

Other(s):

Q12: Do you consider that the costs (e.g. related to infrastructure, equipment, administration) of compliance with the EU animal welfare legislation are outweighed by the benefits (e.g. higher yield, greater market value) for the respective categories of operators?

Yes

No

Do not know/ Cannot answer

Farmers

Transporters

Slaughter houses

Retailers

Please indicate below which types of requirements that are most costly to comply with or enforce , for the categories of operators listed above, by ranking them from 1 (most costly) to 5 (less costly):

Requirements related to infrastructure

Requirements related to equipment

Requirements related to administration

Requirements related to training

Other requirements

Do not know/ Cannot answer

Farmers

Transporters

Slaughter houses

Retailers

Competent authorities

(inspection costs)

If OTHER, please specify:

Q13: For Member States: Is enforcement of the current EU animal welfare legislation cost efficient (relation of the cost to the output/outcome) for competent authorities?

Yes

No

Do not know/ Cannot answer

Farm level legislation

Transport legislation

Slaughter legislation

For Member States: Please give examples of the current animal welfare provisions/requirements/practices identified as cost-efficient to enforce, as well as of those that are not cost-efficient, if possible broken down by the areas listed above:

Q14: Is there any other comment you would like to add?



Annex VIII. Cost-Benefit Analysis of the EU Animal Welfare Legislation

Cost-Benefit Analysis of
EU Animal Welfare Legislation

Authors: Christine Wieck and Sara Dusel

Chair for Agricultural and Food Policy

Institute for Agricultural Policy and Markets

University of Hohenheim

Stuttgart (Germany)

This version: 20.05.2022

The authors acknowledge the research support of Hannah Bücheler, Fatma Bircan and Daniel Prieto Reyes, all Master students at the University of Hohenheim. We thank colleagues and EC staff for valuable and constructive feedback. All remaining errors are our own.



Executive summary

Objective

The objective of this study is to carry out an ex-post cost-benefit assessment for the EU animal welfare legislations at farm, transport and slaughter level that entered into force between the years 1998 and 2009.

Approach

The methodological approach was based on the CBA guidelines of the EU Better Regulation Tool. A complexity in the assessment emerged from the fact that the EU member states were at very different starting points when the legislation came into force. This had to be assessed provision per provisions, as an average across the full legislation would have caused too great a loss of accuracy. For this purpose, a number of provisions were selected that deemed to be the most important and/or costly ones (in terms of compliance costs).

For the approach, this meant that for each provision, Business As Usual (BAU) situations had to be identified ex-post, that reflected the situation in the different member states (i.e. already exceeding the proposed EU legislation; equal/similar to the proposed EU legislation; below minimum requirement to be defined in the proposed EU legislation). In addition, the EU production share that adhered to any of these three situations needed to be known in order to come up with meaningful estimates regarding the calculation of the direct costs of compliance of the affected businesses.

The study relied on already available information that was gathered by means of a systematic literature review. The costs and benefits were assessed for the following stakeholders: Businesses, consumers, public authorities, and regarding the dimensions animal welfare, environment and public health. The latter three are no stakeholders in the traditional sense, but it is in the societal interest to understand the costs and benefits of the legislations in these dimensions.

Results

The results show that a certain amount of direct costs of compliance occurred for businesses and the public administrations (see the following tables for details).

Farm level directives

Notes 411

Businesses (Farms)

Animal welfare

Consumers

Environment

Public Health

Public authorities

Mio. €/year

Qualitative

Qualitative

Qualitative

Qualitative

Qualitative

Mio. €/year

Qualitative

Pigs directive

Costs

Direct compliance costs 412

Total 404,9 413 414

Of which 415 :

One-off: 157,6

Recurrent: 247,3

Enforcement costs

8,2 416

Indirect costs

Benefits

Direct benefits

-/+ Manipulable material may reduce tail biting and thereby, lead to cost savings and increased revenue. This may (partially) offset

costs for provision of material.

-/+ Group housing has the potential to result in efficiency gains but this depends on the specific circumstances

0 Castration performed at younger age and not with analgesia/anaesthesia

-/0 Adjustment of slatted floors for weaner and rearing pigs only for minor share of farms

0 Floor area for weaner and rearing pigs corresponded to BAU

N.A. Dietary fibre

+/0 Loose material better than objects but not supplied to most pigs

+ Likely that AW has improved due to group housing of sows, but this depends on the individual characteristics of the group housing systems (which are not specified in the legislation) and on management

0 Castration is painful at any age, shift to younger age does not reduce the pain

+/0 Adjustment of slatted floors for weaner and rearing pigs might have reduced injuries but was only required for minor share of farms

0 Floor area for weaner and rearing pigs corresponded to BAU

N.A. Dietary fibre

N.A. Effects of loose material on greenhouse gas emissions

-/+ Group housing of sows (depends on system and management)

0 Castration at younger age

0 Adjustment of slatted floors for weaner and rearing pigs still allowed for good drainage

0 Floor area for weaner and rearing pigs corresponded to BAU

N.A. Dietary fibre

-/+ Food safety Manipulable material may transmit pathogens or contain undesirable substances; reduction of tail biting may reduce abscesses and stress-related shedding of food-borne pathogens but information on the effects achieved in practice is N.A.

-/+ Group housing of sows (depends on system and management)

0 Castration at younger age

+/0 Adjustment of slatted floors for weaner and rearing pigs might have reduced injuries (food safety) but was only required for minor share of farms

0 Floor area for weaner and rearing pigs corresponded to BAU

N.A. Dietary fibre

Indirect benefits

+ There seems to be a slightly higher WTP related to some provisions (manipulable material, anaesthesia for castration, group housing of sows/gilts)

Laying hens directive

Costs

Direct compliance costs

Total 592,0 417 418

Of which 419

One-off: 440,0

Recurrent: 152,0

- Ban of unenriched cages, instead: enriched cages increased costs

- Requirements for unenriched cages during transitional period increased costs

-/0 Requirements for alternative systems increased costs but only applied to minor share of farms

- Beak trimming (age limit): evidence is limited but suggests cost increase

-/0 Ban of unenriched cages: management of floor eggs is decisive and can be challenging in enriched cages and even more in alternative systems

Enforcement costs

2,8 420

Indirect costs

Benefits

Direct benefits

+ price mark-ups for eggs from alternative systems

+ The potential to express species-specific behaviour is highest in alternative systems, followed by enriched cages while unenriched cages rank last. In contrast, the risk of adverse animal health outcomes related to infectious diseases, hygiene and parasite load is higher in alternative systems whereas both cage types rank equal in this regard. Management is a decisive factor for AW in all farming systems and as experience has accumulated over the years, similar mortality rates can be observed in indoor alternative systems and cage systems.

+ Requirements for unenriched cages during transitional period improved AW to limited extent

N.A. Alternative systems differed too much to evaluate AW effects

+/0 Beak trimming (age limit): positive effect for hot blade method, no effect for infrared which has evolved as preferred method

-/+ The risk of negative environmental impacts is higher in alternative systems and enriched cages but with appropriate mitigation strategies, emissions can be effectively reduced in these systems.

N.A. Requirements for unenriched cages during transitional period

N.A. Alternative systems differed too much to evaluate environmental effects

N.A. Beak trimming (age limit)

0 Nest eggs: egg shell contamination higher in alternative systems whereas no difference for unenriched/enriched cages, no difference in egg content contamination between systems

N.A. Requirements for unenriched cages during transitional period

N.A. Alternative systems differed too much to evaluate public health effects

N.A. Beak trimming (age limit)

Indirect benefits

+ Support for a legal ban of cages has been expressed by share of consumers at different points in time, price mark-ups are paid for eggs from alternative systems

N.A. Requirements for unenriched cages during transitional period

N.A. Alternative systems differed too much to evaluate effects

N.A. Beak trimming (age limit)

Calves directive

Costs

Direct compliance costs

One-off costs 421 :

42,1

(adjustment costs)

Costs depend on the type of farm (veal, beef, dairy) 422  

Enforcement costs

9,6 423

Indirect costs

Benefits

Direct benefits

+ Larger individual pens

+ Group housing (depending on additional management-related factors)

+/0 Hb threshold, only to be achieved on average

+ Roughage (depending on additional factors such as fibre source and particle size)

Indirect benefits

+ Better reputation of veal production but public concern likely remains an issue

0 White colour of veal meat can still be achieved (and consumer demand for this is an economic incentive for low Hb levels)

Broiler directive

Costs

Direct compliance costs

Total

35,8

Of which 424

One-off:

26,9

Recurrent:

8,9

Enforcement costs

N.A.

sporadic information could be obtained indicating that costs were limited

Indirect costs

Benefits

Direct benefits

+ Upper limit of stocking densities connected to climate and temperature has probably resulted in some (but limited) improvements of AW

+ Monitoring/follow-up at slaughterhouses (but differences between the MS are expected)

Indirect benefits

++ Large stated WTP for the directive was reported for the UK

0 Lack of knowledge on monitoring/follow-up at slaughterhouses in several MS



Transport regulation

Notes 425

Businesses 

(transport companies)

Animal welfare

Consumers

Environment

Public Health

Public authorities

Mio. €/year

Qualitative

Qualitative

Qualitative

Qualitative

Qualitative

Mio. €/year

Qualitative

Transport regulation

Costs

Direct compliance costs

Total 426 : 1726

Of which:

One off: 126

Recurrent: 1600

Of the one-off costs:

Administrative costs relate to: Approval of means of transport, transporter authorisation

Of the recurrent costs:

Administrative costs relate to record keeping (transport planning/journey log; disinfection register)

- Administrative costs of CAs increased by 5 to 15 % (survey by Baltussen et al. 2011)

Enforcement costs

14,0-15,0 427

0 56% of the MS have made no change in inspection and approval routines for means of transport (survey by Baltussen et al. 2011)

Indirect costs

Benefits

Direct benefits

+ Positive effects on revenues are possible due to less injuries and bruises but it is not certain whether this has been achieved in practice because information in this regard is N.A.

+ Positive effects are possible as some prerequisites for better AW were introduced (training/certification, equipment of vehicles) but assessments using animal-based indicators are N.A. and therefore, it is uncertain to what extent the provisions have actually influenced AW outcomes in practice (as was also concluded by Baltussen and Wagenberg 2018)

+ 50 % of CAs surveyed by Baltussen et al. (2011) indicate benefits in control activities due to navigation system

Indirect benefits

+ Indirect positive effects due to the journey log are possible but information on actual benefits in practice is N.A. (see above)

+ Indirect positive effects are possible as consumers care about AW during transport but information on actual benefits in practice is N.A. and current studies report mostly negative attitudes of consumers towards transport



Slaughter regulation

Notes 428

Businesses (slaughterhouses)

Animal welfare

Consumers

Environment

Public Health

Public authorities

Mio. €/year

Qualitative

Qualitative

Qualitative

Qualitative

Qualitative

Mio. €/year

Qualitative

Slaughter regulation

Costs

Direct compliance costs

23,0 – 49,0 429

-/+ Revenues due to carcass quality (PSE, haemorrhages)

- Animal welfare officers, SOPs, certification of staff, equipment increased costs

 

Enforcement costs

One-off:

1,9 (adjustment costs)

Recurrent: 6,5

(adjustment costs for reference networks, certification, reporting duties 430

Adjustment costs for certification of staff can be partially recovered from businesses (slaughterhouses) via fees

In addition:

No cost estimate for authorisation of new stunning/ killing methods. But evidence that this can be recovered from businesses (slaughterhouses) via fees 431

Indirect costs

Benefits

Direct benefits

+ Positive effects are possible as some prerequisites for better AW were introduced (animal welfare officers, SOPs, training, electric parameters for poultry waterbath stunning) but the extent to which positive effects have been achieved in practice depends on the mode of implementation (e.g. legal status of AWOs, contents of SOPs and training) for which systematic information is N.A. and on enforcement which was reported to be an issue for waterbath stunning

Indirect benefits

+ Indirect positive effects due to recording devices on equipment for electrical stunning are possible but information on actual benefits in practice is N.A.

Economic importance

In terms of economic importance of the costs and benefits, only costs of compliance for businesses and administrative/enforcement costs of public authorities could be monetised. Even though this does not provide a full picture, this allows trying to assess the economic importance of the legislations for the different stages of the production process. According to our estimations, the direct costs of compliance for the respective legislations account to about

·1,47% of an annual average pig production value for the pigs directive

·10,95% of an annual average laying hens production value for the laying hens directive

·1,23% of an annual average veal production value for the calves directive

·0,26% of an annual average broiler meat production value for the broiler directive

·Less than 0,11% of an annual average production value for the slaughterhouses for the slaughter regulation.

·Due to lack of data, for the transport directive, no percentage estimate of compliance costs in relation to economic importance could be estimated.

Even though some of the percentages sound small, it is important to note that the profit margins for businesses involved in these sectors are also often small, hence also small additional compliance costs can have a large impact on the viability of a business.

These calculated values have to be taken with utmost care, as they are based on average annual values, contain many assumptions (as laid out in the study), and are only one snapshot in time. The lack of coherent production and price data for the directive-relevant production activities was a major impediment in this effort. But nevertheless, they show that the cost burden of improving animal welfare differed considerably between the different actors in the production process.

These findings are also in line with studies by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS 2021) and others (Mitchell et al. 2017; Brouwer et al. 2011; Henningsen et al. 2018; Menghi et al. 2014). Nevertheless, some provisions were costly to comply with (e.g. group housing of sows) and although a longer transition period allowed for some flexibility, the investment sums can be very hard to shoulder for farmers (Brouwer et al. 2011; Baltussen et al. 2010).

On the benefit side, many issues could be identified where potential benefits for the animals, consumers, the environment or public health could be generated, but often, due to lack of animal-related indicators, or clear evidence on what had been achieved in practice, these benefits could not be quantified and safely attributed to the change in legislation. Hence, it remains the impression, that a large body of legislative text has been developed, implemented and enforced, but that more effort is still needed to demonstrate and quantify systematically the resulting positive benefits for the animals, consumers, the environment or public health (or the farmers).

Overall assessment

We assume as a normative guideline regarding animal welfare in the agricultural sector that the welfare of farm animals should be guaranteed from the day of birth to the day of slaughter.

The question is then, if the EU animal welfare legislation does effectively achieve this objective in an efficient and coherent way, and what parts of the legislative framework lead to costs and benefits within this overall normative guideline.

In order to ensure animal welfare from birth to slaughter, all actors along the production value chain (farmers, transporters and slaughterhouses) have to take responsibility for their part of the value chain (and consumers need to be willing to pay accordingly for this animal welfare standard). In this regard, the EU legislative framework that was evaluated in this study is effective, as it provides an EU wide minimum standard for each part of the production value chain. However, the restriction must be made, that there are still important farm animals that are not covered by EU legislation (e.g. dairy cows, turkeys, sheep and goats).

Then, a next question must be, if the benefits of this minimum standard for the animals are sufficient from an animal welfare standpoint to warrant such a large legislation package. Here, the evaluation is less clear, because the animal welfare benefits are not systematically recorded, evaluated or monetised. The assessment in this study showed that only in some instances, EU legislation has contributed to raising animal welfare standards (e.g. ban of gestation and veal crates, ban of unenriched cages). In many cases, it rather unified patchy national legislations or defined common husbandry practices as the new legislative minimum standard. Furthermore, we also observe large differences in the national implementation of the legislation which may be due to “loopholes and unclearly defined provisions” (EPRS 2021) or problems in enforcement. Contrary to the intention, a number of practices, e.g. mutilations, lack of loose materials for manipulation, could not be abolished by the legislation. On the other hand, one must also consider the developments that could potentially have occurred over time if EU legislation had not been introduced. In this regard, the regulations might have served as a safeguard against management practices that might otherwise have worsened animal welfare.

In addition, not only benefits for the animals were analysed, but also potential benefits for consumers, the environment and public health. Given that consumers frequently emphasise that animal welfare is of high importance, any legislative improvement in animal welfare may be considered beneficial for them. However, the studies also show that consumers do not consider the current level to be sufficient. Hence, consumers’ actual benefits from the studied legislative changes are likely rather small. The same holds for environment and public health. Some small positive benefits could be detected, but the relationships were vague and not quantifiable.

When the costs of the studied legislations for businesses (farms, transporters, slaughterhouses) and public authorities are presented as percentage terms of total production costs, they might not appear substantial. However, given the small profit margins and fierce competition, also small increases in total costs can be tough to offset by the businesses and large investment sums can be hard to shoulder. Taking into account that the available data for the calculations of percentage terms is often very limited, there still seems to be a larger burden at the farm level although a comparison across the value chain actors is probably not appropriate, as the duration of animal care differs between the actors, and thus, also the related costs differ. The objective should be that animal welfare is guaranteed at all stages in the value chain and that the actors take responsibility for the whole time that the animal is under their responsibility. When focusing on the costs of different provisions of the legislations, it seemed that more substantial adjustments had to be made at the farm level. In particular, the pigs directive, the laying hens directive and the calves directive (although only for veal production) implied structural changes (ban of gestation and veal crates, ban of unenriched cages). The broilers directive implied a fundamental change in the principle of animal welfare regulation by introducing the systematic monitoring of animal-based indicators at slaughterhouses but cost estimates for this particular provision are scarce and the available studies suggest that costs might have been limited. At the farm level, the broilers directive led to mostly incremental changes. Costs due to the slaughter regulation can be considered limited compared to the output of the sector. An assessment of the impacts of the transport regulation would entail a high level of uncertainty because no information could be obtained on the cost structure of this sector.

To conclude, our overall assessment of the studied legislative package is positive as we recognise that an EU-wide minimum standard was established even if some challenges remain concerning the level of animal welfare, harmonised implementation and enforcement.

Not all animal welfare issues could be eliminated with the current EU legislation but it has to be acknowledged that the legislations offered protection against a deterioration of the animal welfare situation (for whatever reason). Hence, in order to achieve the aforementioned normative guideline that animal welfare should be ensured from birth to slaughter for each farm animal, a minimum legislative standard is necessary. This is what the current legislative package offers, at least for a number of relevant parameters. Without regulation, one would have to trust the market to regulate animal welfare. Indeed, better animal welfare very much depends on market actors and consumers, but it is clear that this does not work in all countries and not for all animals because market-driven animal welfare improvements often only cover limited production shares and market segments. Hence, a legislative minimum standard is a more effective approach to ensure a minimum level of animal welfare, at least for all those farm animals that fall under the scope of the analysed legislations.

Caveats

Clearly this study comes along with several caveats: an extremely tight time budget combined with a large scope of the study made this study a very challenging endeavour which did not allow to investigate with much detail and time some issues that would have needed more attention. In particular the economic importance of the provisions in relation to production costs would have needed more attention, but also the costs and benefits for example for consumers or the environment could only be touched upon briefly. This latter part suffered strongly from the unavailability of coherent historical data (production volume, prices) for the main production activities of the farm level directives. The analysis of the consumer impacts relies heavily on willingness to pay estimates (WTP), but the often voiced critique in these estimates (see e.g. Lagerkvist and Hess 2011) could not really be picked up and be reflected in the related assessment of the (costs and) benefits. Similar things could be said about the impacts on animal welfare, as the improvement of this is at the center of the set of studied legislations. Hence, an even better, also quantitative elaboration of the changes in animal welfare would have been desirable, but has to be left for future research.



Table of Content

Executive summary    

Table of Content    

List of Figures    

1    Introduction    

1.1    Background    

1.2    Objective    

1.3    Scope    

2    Methodological approach    

2.1    Conceptual challenges    

2.2    Approach    

3    Results    

3.1    Overview of costs and benefits identified in the evaluation of the general directive    

3.2    Overview of costs and benefits identified in the evaluation of the farm level legislation    

3.2.1    Pigs directive    

3.2.2    Laying hens directive    

3.2.3    Broilers directive (chickens kept for meat production)    

3.2.4    Calves directive    

3.3    Overview of costs and benefits identified in the evaluation of legislation on the protection of animals during transport    

3.3.1    Selected provisions    

3.3.2    Legislation in total    

3.4    Overview of costs and benefits of identified in the evaluation of the legislation on the protection of animals at the time of killing    

3.4.1    Selected provisions    

3.4.2    Legislation in total    

4    Recent external assessments: Expert interviews    

5    Conclusion    

6    Annex    

6.1    Pigs directive: cost of compliance estimates    

6.1.1    Manipulable material for weaners and rearing pigs    

6.1.2    Castration    

6.1.3    Floor properties for weaners and rearing pigs    

6.1.4    Group housing for gestating sows    

6.1.5    Provisions in total    

6.2    Laying hens directive: cost of compliance estimates    

6.2.1    Ban of unenriched cages    

6.2.2    Additional requirements for unenriched cages during the transitional period    

6.2.3    Alternative systems    

6.2.4    Beak trimming    

6.2.5    Provisions in total    

6.3    Broilers directive    

6.3.1    Provisions in total    

6.4    Calves directive    

6.4.1    Confinement, size/properties of individual pens, floor area for group housing    

6.4.2    Provisions in total    

6.5    Transport directive: cost of compliance    

7    Literature    

List of Figures

Figure 1 Illustration of ex-post CBA    

Figure 2 States of possible Member State heterogeneity versus new EU legislation    

Figure 3 Exemplary state for a BAU Scenario for analysing costs and benefits an EU provision    



Introduction

Background

The welfare of food producing farm animals during breeding, transport and slaughtering is a topic that has gathered considerable attention for many years. Over the years, a number of evaluations of the European Union (EU) of different aspects of EU farm animal welfare were carried out (Rayment et al. 2010; European Commission 2021b; EPRS 2021). In the Farm to Fork Strategy, published by the European Commission (EC) within the framework of the European Green Deal package, the EC announced that “the Commission will revise the animal welfare legislation, including on animal transport and the slaughter of animals” (European Commission 2020). When revising a regulation, according to the Better Regulation approach of the EC, a “Fitness Check” of the existing regulation is needed (European Commission n.d.). One element of the fitness check is a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) to understand the costs and benefits that the implementation of the legislations has generated.

Objective

The objective of this study is to carry out a CBA in line with the Better Regulation Guidelines and Toolbox of the current EU animal welfare legislations. The CBA is done for the following directives and legislations (in order as they entered into force):

·Council Directive 98/58/EC of 20 July 1998 concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes;

·Council Directive 1999/74/EC of 19 July 1999 laying down minimum standards for the protection of laying hens;

·Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 of 22 December 2004 on the protection of animals during transport; and

·Council Directive 2007/43/EC of 28 June 2007 laying down minimum rules for the protection of chickens kept for meat production;

·Council Directive 2008/119/EC of 18 December 2008 laying down minimum standards for the protection of calves;

·Council Directive 2008/120/EC of 18 December 2008 laying down minimum standards for the protection of pigs.

·Council Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 of 24 September 2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing.

Hence, when looking along the food value chain from a farming perspective, five legislations focus on the farming level (general directive, laying hens, broiler, calves and pigs) and one legislation each focusses on the transport and the slaughterhouse level. All legislations dealing with the downstream food value chain, i.e. with the marketing of the final product or animal by-products were not considered in this analysis.

Scope

The scope of this study has to be narrowed down in several ways. The focus lies on the costs and benefits of the EU legislative acts, a further analysis of national legislation going beyond the EU requirements (“gold plating”) is out of the scope of this study. In the assessment of the legislations’ costs and benefits, the focus lies only on those food producing farm animals that are mentioned in the legislations above. In addition, when calculating the coverage of the legislation, no distinction is made between animals kept on organic farms versus those that are kept on conventional farms. This is justified by the fact, that when the above legislation came into force, the share of organic farms in the EU Members States was very low. 432 Further details regarding the time period for the calculations of costs and benefits of the legislations, the transition periods, and specific provisions in the legislations, issues of enforcement, and Member State heterogeneity in implementation have been considered in the study and will be further discussed in the next section.



Methodological approach

With the Better Regulation Toolbox of the EC, a guideline (and toolbox) for impact analysis and CBA has been provided (European Commission 2021a). In Tool #56, a typology of costs and benefits is laid out, and in Tool #63, features and implementation steps for a CBA, are discussed. These guidelines are the basis for the methodology used in this study. Overall, similar approaches, as the one used in this study for the calculations of costs and benefits can be found for example in the studies by Brouwer et al. (2011) and the Scientific Advisory Board of the German Ministry of Agriculture (WBA 2015).

Conceptual challenges

Even though the above-mentioned guidelines provide the basis for the methodological approach, several assumptions and adjustments were necessary, in order to take account of specificities of the EU animal welfare legislation. These assumptions and adjustments are discussed in the following.

Implementing an ex-post CBA

One of the first differences with an ex-ante CBA is, that this CBA is not performed for legislation that is projected to enter into force in the future, but that has already been in place for at least 13 or more years. In addition, for each legislation, the entry into force was at a different point in time, and, for some provisions of the legislations, transition periods were fixed. Hence, understanding the timing of the entry into force for each legislation and provision was crucial, and the costs and benefits at the respective time point had to be assessed.

This implied that for the “Business As Usual” (‘BAU) scenario, the situation when still no legislation was in place (“without”) had to be defined accordingly. Thus, when for example assessing the costs of the implementation of the legislation for farmers, one had to compare the implementation with the legislation in place (“with” scenario) with the farming practices that were established before the legislations came into force. This follows the “with and without principle”, usually applied in CBAs. 

Figure 1 Illustration of ex-post CBA

Source: Own presentation.

In addition, this study performed no own data collection but completely relied on available assessments and literature. This implies that studies had to be identified, that focused exactly on the provisions of the respective legislations, and that did the “with and without” comparison, so that the BAU and cost and benefits, incurred due to the entry into force of the legislation could be clearly identified. Hence, the ex-post CBA using individual points in time was dependent on the availability of studies (see also Figure 1), and no discounting over time of costs was carried out when the study time frame and the entry into force was not exactly aligning. Instead, percentage terms and hypothetical scenarios were employed (see Section 2.2).

EU legislation versus Member State reality

In particular for the council directives regulating the husbandry conditions of farm animal welfare requirements for pigs, laying hens, chickens for meat production and calves, large heterogeneity in the implementation in the Member States can be observed. This has implications for the calculation of costs and benefits. As Figure 2 shows, in principle three states can be observed. Only in State A, an increase in animal welfare can be expected, accompanied by an increase in costs. For States B and C, no new costs but also no new animal welfare benefits can be expected from new legislation.

Figure 2 States of possible Member State heterogeneity versus new EU legislation

State A: additional costs and benefits due to EU legislation

State B: no additional costs or benefits due to EU legislation

State B: no additional costs or benefits due to EU legislation

Source: Own presentation.

When taking the situation across all EU Member States together, for each provision of the farm-related animal welfare legislation, a situation like the following arises (Figure 3).

Hence, the challenge for the calculation of costs and benefits is to make an informed assumption about the maximum distance between the EU wide average BAU scenario and the minimum fulfilment of EU legislation on a provision per provision basis. In addition, where possible, in the optimal case, one could weight the average with the size of the affected population of animals in the respective Member State – but again, also for this, literature must be available that differentiates the state of compliance for each respective provision and the number of the livestock that are affected by this.



Figure 3 Exemplary state for a BAU Scenario for analysing costs and benefits an EU provision

Source: Own presentation.

Given the unavailability of this information, this study has used a simplified approach based on minimum and maximum compliance assumptions for the average EU stock of the respective animal category. Another limitation applies to the consideration of transition periods: Different transition periods existed and for some Member States, due to these transitions, compliance with the provision might have generated no costs (or benefits). However, again due to limitations of the available literature and the scope of the study, it was not systematically investigated for all Member States and animal categories which type of transition applies and therefore, what costs and benefits occurred.

Furthermore, the focus is on cost and benefits of compliance with the minimum legislation standard, hence national “gold plating” or additional obligations required by private standards were also not considered.

Selection of provisions for analysis

Given the size of the legislations, a selection had to be made regarding which provisions may be included in the analysis. The following selection criteria guided the choice of the provisions for the CBA analysis:

·relevance (for stakeholders and the legislation revision process)

·specificity of provisions (sufficiently specific so that a CBA is possible)

·data availability (literature)

In particular the criteria relevance and specificity may lead to a bias in the selection towards those provisions, that may have had an impact on producers (or other stakeholders), as in particular the costs of compliance are usually a controversial topic in the debate preceding the political decision making. Consequently, in accordance with EC guidance, Table 1 presents the final set of provisions chosen for the CBA.



Table 2 Provisions chosen for cost benefit assessment

Legislation

Selection of provisions

General Directive

no specific provision chosen

Pigs Directive

-weaners, rearing pigs: floor area, floor properties, manipulable material

-sows, gilts: confinement/floor area/floor properties, manipulable material, dietary fibre

-mutilations: castration, tail docking

-inspections by public authorities

Broilers Directive

-stocking densities

-climate inside housing

-on-farm record keeping by farmers

-monitoring/follow-up at slaughterhouses

-inspections by public authorities

Calves Directive

-confinement/floor area for group housing

-size and properties of individual pens

-feed properties

-inspections by public authorities

Laying Hens Directive

-ban of unenriched cages

-transitional period

-requirements for alternative systems

-beak trimming

-distinguishing number for egg marketing

-inspections by public authorities

Transport Regulation

species: cattle, pigs, poultry

means of transport: trucks, marine vessels (less data)

-properties of means of transport (related to journey time)

-authorisation of transporters

-training and certification of staff

-approval of means of transport

-journey log

-non-discriminatory inspections by public authorities

Slaughter Regulation

species: cattle, pigs, poultry

- training and certification of staff

- monitoring of killing/stunning effectiveness

- animal welfare officers

- network for scientific support

- technical aspects: electrical parameters for stunning of poultry, recording devices for electrical stunning

Source: Own compilation.

Approach

Having selected for each legislation the provisions to be included in the CBA, for each provision, the following steps were performed:

11.Definition of BAU scenario and alternative scenarios for compliance with the provision

12.Literature review of existing documents per provision to gather information of costs and benefits with a focus on those documents that provide costs and benefits for the minimum level of compliance with the respective provision

13.Reliability assessment of the retrieved literature and decision, which documents are finally to be used as a basis for the monetisation of the costs (and benefits)

14.Qualitative summary and monetisation of costs and benefits per provision and development of coverage scenarios to assess costs and benefits at EU level

Finally, a summing up across all provisions of a legislation was done to come up with costs and benefits for the legislation in total (or at least all analysed provisions). In the following, additional methodological details are given.

Business as usual scenario (BAU)

See the conceptual debate in section 2.1.

Alternative compliance scenarios

Given that provisions were often not fully specific in how a business (farm) could comply with them, different alternatives of compliance were possible, and had to be considered in the analysis.

Stakeholders considered in the cost-benefit analysis

As pointed out in the Better Regulation Guideline, costs of a legislation often concentrate on specific stakeholders whereas benefits are often more broadly distributed over the society. In this study, the following “stakeholders” are considered:

·Businesses: refer to all types of business (e.g. farms, transport companies, slaughterhouses) that are affected by a legislation

·Consumers: refer to those citizens that consume a certain product

·Public authorities: refer to EU, national or local administrations

·Animal welfare: refers to the welfare of animals

·Environment: refers to the welfare of the environment

·Public health: refers to the health of the citizens in general 433  

Even though animal welfare, environment and public health are no groups/stakeholders of the society, they are termed “stakeholder” because it is in the societal interest to understand the costs and benefits of a legislation on a larger set of dimensions. Hence, the welfare of animals, the welfare of the environment and how public health is affected, are all part of the set of “stakeholders” to be included in the analysis.

Literature review

Given that this is a pure desk-based study, the findings rely on the data and literature already available. Hence, the “data” for this study consisted of peer-reviewed publications, grey literature, and interview transcripts. The following selection criteria were applied in searching for this literature:

·Must contain a comparison of the provisions with BAU

·Must focus on EU Member States

·Must be in of the following languages: English, German, French

·Regarding producers’ costs of compliance: studies with only a small number of observations were also acceptable, as for certain requirements not much was available, but larger literature reviews preferable

·Regarding costs, benefits and trade-offs between animal welfare, environment, consumers, etc.: Stronger focus on peer-review literature reviews, because in these usually all relevant scientifically established trade-offs are covered.

Using a list of standardised key words for the search and based on first findings, a snowball approach, the following literature databases were screened: Scopus, EFSA database, Wageningen Economic Research database, OpenAgrar (German Federal Research Institutes).

Definition of items in cost-benefit analysis

Following the guidelines of the Better Regulation Tool, costs and benefits were differentiated on the cost side into direct compliance costs, enforcement costs and indirect costs, and on the benefit side, into direct and indirect benefits.

Direct costs occur due to compliance with the legislation, direct benefits are those positive impacts (increase in welfare, increase in market efficiency) that are the result of the objective of the legislation. Indirect costs and benefits occur in related markets or to stakeholders that are not directly targeted by the legislation but experience an, often, unintended impact of the legislation.

Regarding direct compliance costs (for producers/businesses), where possible, charges (fees, levies, taxes) administrative costs and adjustment costs were considered. Administrative costs refer to administrative obligations for example for information transfer or information availability upon request and include activities such as registration, monitoring, reporting or labelling. Adjustment costs are defined as incremental costs of compliance with the new regulation (other than charges and administrative costs) and capture cost items such as labour, material and equipment or investments into buildings. In line with other studies, changes in revenues were also included (Brouwer et al. 2011). On the revenue side, this meant in practice mostly, that animal productivity may have changed due to the new legislation which would affect the revenue side.

Another aspect to consider is the point in time at which costs (or benefits) occur, and if they are “one-off” or “recurrent”. This is particular important, when substantial adjustments for compliance with a new legislation are necessary, for example such as building a new barn or housing. Here, following the literature, the study’s approach is to annualise all investment costs over the lifetime of the investment while the lifetime of the investment may differ, depending on the type of investment necessary and the assumptions of the underlying studies. Added to these annualised investment costs are then the additional recurrent costs, so that the monetary values given in this study represent a sum of annualised one-off costs plus recurrent costs. 

The information on which cost items exactly are included in these cost figures, and whether the assumption is an investment into a new building or “just” the modification of an existing building is given in the detailed description of the different studies used for this analysis, and can be found in the annex.

Reliability assessment

Afterwards, having condensed the findings from the available studies in the literature, a reliability assessment was carried out to finally select those studies/reviews that seemed the best fit for the CBA. Criteria in this analysis of the “best fit” were the following:

·How close is the study design to the exact specification of the legislative provision?

·How many observations are used for the findings of the study?

·Quality of the publication? Is it peer-reviewed?

·Does the study reflect the production conditions in one of the big producer countries of the EU, respectively?

Based on this, the most reliable studies were identified, and used for the summary and monetisation of the costs and benefits. In the results section, when presenting the costs of compliance calculations for the producers, this reliability decision is reflected in the blue shadowing in the cells.

Summarising the findings

Finally, per provision, the costs and benefits are qualitatively condensed out of the available studies.

Regarding the monetisation of the direct compliance costs, the following steps were performed:

5.If a study contained percentage information of increase in production costs (total costs, variable costs..),this information was directly included in the analysis and it was documented which cost items were included.

6.If a study contained information about additional costs in [Euro/product unit] for compliance with the new legislation,

a.we searched for the remaining costs (e.g. basic costs for the respective animal type, country and year (e.g. in KTBL information).

b.If such cost figures were not available, we searched for the respective producer prices and used these as an approximation of production costs so that a percentage figure could be calculated.

c.Regarding the producer price per unit of product, we relied on Eurostat or EC producer price information and always formed a five-year average price around the year in which the analysed studies were performed.

Regarding the summary of potential benefits for consumers, often Willingness-To-Pay (WTP) values are cited. Here, it is important to keep in mind that even though consumers frequently state that they would be willing to pay more for a product that was produced under certain conditions, the reality shows that often, at the point of sale, this behaviour of buying products displaying certain characteristics at higher price is often not occurring. This is known as the consumer-citizen gap, a well-researched and debated problem with these WTP estimates. In addition, even when a higher purchase price can be realised, it is not clear, if then, along the production value chain, this additional financial value added really benefits the producers.



Results 434  

Overview of costs and benefits identified in the evaluation of the general directive

Regarding a potential CBA of this directive, the European Parliamentary Research Service stated the following in its recent ex-post evaluation of the EU animal welfare legislation (EPRS 2021): “Given the absence of clear criteria for implementation and the delegation to MS of key decisions (including on mutilations), the directive has been seen as relatively ineffective and there are too few elements available to offer here a robust description of its different kinds of impacts that would clearly differentiate them from those of other legislation or other initiatives.” (p. 62). In addition, they concluded that: “There is no evidence on the costs of implementing the general directive. The directive has been linked to some administrative costs for farmers (record keeping, usually considered good practice and a norm in modern farming). While other implementation costs may have been generated by the directive, e.g. to improve buildings, such changes have also been driven by other policies than AW legislation (e.g. support to farmers to modernise and optimise their buildings and equipment) and as such are difficult to attribute to the directive.” (p. 65)

Thus, the conclusion for the present study is that no stand-alone CBA can be performed.



Overview of costs and benefits identified in the evaluation of the farm level legislation

Pigs directive

In the following, separate CBAs for each provision will be provided. In these CBAs, the compliance costs for businesses (farmers) were calculated, based on information extracted from the literature. Regarding the cost estimation, the following assumptions were made:

Assumptions

baseline value for total production volume of pigmeat [1000 tonnes/year]

(Eurostat) 435

20 000

baseline value for total production costs of pigmeat [€/kg carcass weight Grade E]

(5-year average of EU+UK weighted average annual prices from 2003-2007)

(European Commission 2022e)

1,37

Provision: manipulable material for weaners and rearing pigs

BAU

The current provisions have applied since 2001 with a transitional period until 2003. (Before, similar provisions had applied under Directive 91/630/EEC but these provisions were more vague and granted exceptions according to environment and stocking density.)

As said before, first, the business as usual scenario (BAU) had to be identified. Given the diversity in the EU member states, already in the situation up to 2001, differences in the provision of manipulable material could be observed. Some member states exceeded the foreseen EU legislation while others were similar/equal in their national regulatory approach or did not prescribe anything. For the latter, the (at that time) new legislation meant an actual tightening of the situation, and thus involved costs of compliance.

BAU

exceeding EU legislation

e.g. straw-based systems with solid concrete floor or deep litter for growing-finishing pigs:

EU average of 12 MS: 6 %; range 4 % (BE) - 25 % (UK) (Hendriks and Weerdhof 1999)

similar/equal to EU legislation

e.g. DE: national legislation (Schweinehaltungsverordnung 1988)

no supply of materials

or objects

e.g. NL: 57 % of farms (all pig categories) in 2000 (EC Audit Report 2005-7512)

absence of materials or objects after 2003:

e.g. NL: 6 % of farms (all pig categories) in 2005 (EC Audit Report 2005-7512)

IT: 69 % of farms sampled by Scollo et al. (2016) (n=67)

estimates for EU average by EFSA (2007c):

1-15 % of weaners up to 10 weeks of age (most likely estimate: 10 %; high level of uncertainty)

1-15 % of rearing pigs from 10 weeks onwards (most likely estimate: 10 %; medium level of uncertainty)

1-15 % of rearing pigs > 110 kg (most likely estimate: 10 %; medium level of uncertainty)

Given that provisions were often not fully specific in how a business (farm) could comply with it, different alternatives of compliance were possible, and had to be considered in the analysis.

Alternatives of compliance considered in the analysis

supply of loose materials

e.g. straw

SE: 99 % of farms surveyed by Wallgren et al. (2016) (n=84)

IT: 0 % of farms sampled by Scollo et al. (2016) (n=67)

estimates for EU average by EFSA (2007c): too little amount of enrichments such as straw rack, straw dispenser

80-96 % of weaners up to 10 weeks of age (most likely estimate: 92 %; medium level of uncertainty)

80-95 % of rearing pigs from 10 weeks onwards (most likely estimate: 90 %; low level of uncertainty)

80-95 % of rearing pigs > 110 kg (most likely estimate: 90 %; low level of uncertainty)

supply of objects

e.g. metal chains ± objects accepted by competent authorities in NL, DE, FR, CZ, AT (EC Audit Reports 2005-7512, 2001-3382, 2010-8390, 2010-8384, 2011-6096)

IT: chains or plastic objects as the only enrichments in 25 % of farms sampled by Scollo et al. (2016) (n=67)

NL: chains as the only enrichments in the majority of farms (all pig categories) (EC Audit Report 2005-7512)

estimates for EU average by EFSA (2007c):

80-96 % of weaners up to 10 weeks of age (most likely estimate: 92 %; medium level of uncertainty)

85-97 % of rearing pigs from 10 weeks onwards (most likely estimate: 92 %; low level of uncertainty)

85-97 % of rearing pigs > 110 kg (most likely estimate: 92 %; low level of uncertainty)

Businesses (farm) direct compliance costs

change in total production costs compared to BAU

[% per kg pig meat]

change in total production costs compared to BAU 

[Mio. €/year]

hypothetical scenarios: share of production volume for which production practices were adjusted

Elements of provision

min

central

max

25 %

50 %

75 %

100 %

loose material

0,5

1,7

2,9

116,5

232,4

349,4

465,8

objects

0,03

0,5

0,9

31,9

63,7

95,6

127,4

As described in the methodology section, the direct cost estimates are derived from the literature. A detailed overview on the findings in the literature can be found in the respective subsection of the annex at the end of the report.

The range of cost estimates results from the reviewed literature and in most cases, the central value corresponds to the mean value between the minimum and maximum value.

The blue shadowing in the cells indicates the values that are considered to be the most likely ones, based on the BAU coverage across Member States and on the quality of the studies.

Animal, consumer, environment, public health costs and benefits (direct and indirect)

In addition to the costs of compliance for businesses (farms), also costs and benefits for other stakeholders were analysed, based on findings in the literature.

Costs and benefits (direct and indirect)

animals

ranking of enrichments (examples) according to their potential AW benefits (descending order; EFSA 2014):

- straw ± edible components (e.g. beet roots)

- ropes, wooden objects

- plastic objects, metal chains

- Although it is a pragmatic approach to rank enrichments according to their classes (e.g. straw, plastic objects), attention should be attributed to the fact that enrichments from the same class may differ in their individual properties and therefore, in their AW benefits (e.g. straw may be of variable quality and contain mycotoxins or pathogens; plastic objects may foster the transmission of pathogens between batches if they are not replaced or cleaned appropriately) (EFSA 2014). Hence, EFSA (2014) recommends to assess the AW benefits of enrichments according to their individual properties. Furthermore, when assessing the AW benefits of enrichments, the husbandry system should be taken into account (e.g. materials with long fibres can potentially obstruct slatted floors and thereby decrease hygiene, air quality and in consequence, animal welfare).

- Peer-reviewed literature reviews by D'Eath et al. (2014) and Buijs and Muns (2019b) provide further support for the ranks assigned to the enrichments. In addition, both reviews underline the fact that even the more effective enrichments often fail to fully eliminate tail biting as tail biting is known to be a multifactorial animal welfare issue. With regards to objects made of processed wood, plastic or metal, Buijs and Muns (2019b) point out that these objects only significantly reduce tail biting if exchanged regularly.

- The recent peer-reviewed literature adds further insights into the AW benefits of enrichments and further supports the ranking described above (Kalies et al. 2021; Ocepek et al. 2020; Staaveren et al. 2019; Lahrmann et al. 2019; Larsen et al. 2018). Evidence on the additional benefits of wood remains mixed (Heinonen et al. 2021; Telkänranta 2020; Nannoni et al. 2019) and confounding factors regarding the husbandry system should be considered. The effects of compressed straw blocks, in theory an intermediate between loose material and object, are also mixed and merit further investigation (Haigh et al. 2019; Zwicker et al. 2013). Similar to previous findings, even the provision of straw may not fully prevent tail biting due to the multifactorial nature of the issue (Kalies et al. 2021; Kauselmann et al. 2021; Larsen et al. 2018; Lahrmann et al. 2017). Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that providing loose materials can be feasible on partially slatted floors (Wallgren et al. 2020) and fully slatted floors (Kalies et al. 2021; Kauselmann et al. 2021; Chou et al. 2019a) without detrimental effects on pen hygiene when suitable management practices are employed and adapted modes of provision are chosen.

consumers

- The available evidence on consumers’ preferences of different enrichments is limited and mixed. Schütz et al. (2020) demonstrate in a picture-based survey that German consumers’ stated preferences were in line with the ranking established above. However, in a text-based discrete choice experiment Latacz‐Lohmann and Schreiner (2019) find that German consumers’ stated preferences deviate from this ranking, with an additional WTP [per kg carcass weight of slaughter pig] of: + 4,2 %* for three pieces of manipulable material, + 3,6 %* for straw bedding in part of the barn area, + 2,0 %* for one piece of manipulable material plus material for rooting (Latacz‐Lohmann and Schreiner 2019). The authors do not indicate the type of manipulable material.

environment

- There is no evidence available on the effects of providing objects, however no relevant impacts are expected.

- The evidence on the effects of providing organic loose materials in small quantities (i.e. as enrichments, not as bedding) is limited. In general, these materials may decrease NH3 emissions (more assimilation, crust as physical barrier) and increase N2O emissions (aerobic-anaerobic conditions in crust) and CH4 emissions (bacterial fermentation) (Blanes-Vidal et al. 2008). In a recent study by Hansen et al. (2020), it was demonstrated that NH3 emissions from partially slatted systems with straw enrichment and additional emission mitigation measures were lower than in the control system without straw. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that providing loose materials as enrichments can be feasible on partially slatted floors (Wallgren et al. 2020) and fully slatted floors (Kalies et al. 2021; Kauselmann et al. 2021; Chou et al. 2019a) without detrimental effects on pen hygiene when suitable management practices are employed and adapted modes of provision are chosen. This is an indication that increased emissions due to pen fouling can be avoided in these systems.

public health

- As reviewed by EFSA (2007a), there is a lack of evidence on the effects of enrichment materials on the safety of pigmeat. When different pigs use the same enrichment material, this could possibly increase the transmission of pathogens between animals. In general, stress can facilitate the propagation of food-borne pathogens. Furthermore, abscesses and carcass condemnation due to tail biting pose a risk to food safety. (EFSA 2007a)

- In a peer-reviewed literature review, Lahrssen-Wiederholt et al. (2016) suggest that loose materials as well as objects may contain undesirable substances (e.g. toxic metals, dioxins in loose materials and BPA or phthalates in plastic objects). The authors point out that it cannot be excluded that this poses a food safety risk in practice. More recent evidence underlines the importance of considering these issues (Koch et al. 2022; Koch et al. 2021).

- Regarding the use of antimicrobial substances, Stygar et al. (2020) show that insufficient enrichment (among other factors) was associated with an increased number of antimicrobial treatments for tail biting and musculoskeletal diseases.

*Own calculations based on data from the source.

CBA summary

·The most beneficial enrichments in terms of AW are associated with higher costs to producers compared to the less beneficial enrichments.

·The AW benefits of enrichments have been shown to (partially) translate into costs savings and increased revenue for producers due to reduced tail biting damages. However, this is expected to offset the costs of providing the more beneficial (and more costly) enrichments only if high levels of tail biting damage prevail and if a high efficacy of the enrichments is assumed. The costs of providing the less beneficial (and less costly) enrichments are more easily offset by cost savings and increased revenue.

·Consumers have stated an additional willingness to pay for enrichments under experimental conditions. Further investigations are needed to establish whether consumers’ preferences are in line with the enrichments’ AW benefits.

·The effects of different enrichments on the environment have not yet been clearly established.

·Possible positive and negative effects of different enrichments on public health exist and remain to be further investigated.

Tail docking

BAU

The current provisions (no routine tail docking and if carried out on piglets > 7 days of age only under anaesthesia and prolonged analgesia by veterinarian) have applied since 2001 with a transitional period until 2003. Before that, routine tail docking had already been prohibited under Directive 91/630/EEC (since 1991 with a transitional period until 1994).



BAU

exceeding EU legislation

e.g. SE: complete ban due to national legislation (SFS 1988:534; Wallgren et al. 2019)

similar/equal to EU legislation

-

routine tail docking

- routine tail docking continued to be a common practice in the majority of MS after the legislation came into force in 2003 (Briyne et al. 2018; EFSA 2007d)

- proportion of pigs tail docked in 2017: ES (95 %), DE (89 %), DK (98 %), NL (92 %), FR (95 %), PL (95 %), IT (95 %) (Briyne et al. 2018)

- intervention before 7 days of age is conventional husbandry practice (Buijs and Muns 2019a)

Alternatives of compliance considered in the analysis

no routine tail docking

- achieved in SE, FI, LT (Briyne et al. 2018; EFSA 2007d) with, in 2017, 0 % tail-docked pigs in SE and 1,5 % tail-docked pigs in FI (Briyne et al. 2018)

- not achieved in the majority of MS (see above; Briyne et al. 2018; EFSA 2007d) because the provision contains “loopholes” (EPRS 2021) that are used to circumvent the phasing out of tail docking

Businesses (farm) direct compliance costs

change in total production costs compared to BAU

[% per kg pig meat]

change in total production costs compared to BAU 

[Mio. €/year]

hypothetical scenarios: share of production volume for which production practices were adjusted

Provision

min

central

max

25 %

50 %

75 %

100 %

tail docking

- Tail docking is a measure carried out in order to prevent tail biting. The costs and benefits of phasing out tail docking are therefore connected to the substitute measures employed to prevent tail biting and to the damage caused if these measures are not effective.

- The current EU legislation mainly contains vague requirements on measures to prevent tail biting. The single most specific measure that is currently required is the supply of manipulable material. Therefore, the costs and benefits of supplying manipulable material (at least partially) reflect the costs and benefits of phasing out tail docking (see previous section).

Animal, consumer, environment, public health costs and benefits (direct and indirect)

Costs and benefits

animals

- There is consensus that tail docking induces acute pain in piglets and several studies have reported behavioural alterations suggestive of persisting discomfort in the days following the intervention (Prunier et al. 2020; D'Eath et al. 2016). Tail docking is usually performed on all piglets and it effectively prevents tail biting but cannot fully eliminate it (reviewed by Prunier et al. 2020).

- Tail biting can have detrimental consequences for the victims but not all animals become tail biting victims during their lifetime (D'Eath et al. 2016).

- Following a utilitarian approach and assuming a tail biting incidence of 3,1 % for docked pigs and 17,3 % for undocked pigs, D'Eath et al. (2016) calculate that the AW benefits of phasing out tail docking without employing any additional measures 436 to prevent tail biting would outweigh the AW costs of tail docking if tail docking caused seven times less suffering than tail biting [sufferingbiting = 7 x sufferingdocking]. However, these are theoretical considerations and it is of course not feasible to empirically assess and to express in numerical figures how much less suffering tail docking actually causes compared to tail biting (D'Eath et al. 2016). Nevertheless, these theoretical considerations give an impression of the AW cost-benefit relation when routine tail docking is phased out and tail biting increases because no additional measures are employed to reduce tail biting.

consumers

In a discrete choice experiment, Latacz‐Lohmann and Schreiner (2019) elicit an additional WTP of + 4,8 %* [per kg carcass weight of slaughter pig] among German consumers for phasing out surgical procedures (both tail docking and castration together) compared to when both procedures are carried out without anaesthesia. In a discrete choice experiment conducted by Lagerkvist et al. (2006), Swedish consumers have stated a negative WTP (i.e. the desire for a price discount) of - 4,7 %* [per kg carcass weight of slaughter pig] if tail docking is not performed and tail biting is not prevented. However, in the same study consumers also stated an additional WTP of + 3,5 %* [per kg carcass weight of slaughter pig] if tail docking is not performed but tail biting is prevented by other (unspecified) means. Consumers’ preferences with regards to manipulable materials are summarised in section 3.2.1.1.

environment

Consequences for the environment are expected to arise mainly due to the substitute measures employed to prevent tail biting (see section 3.2.1.1).

public health

In general, stress can facilitate the propagation of food-borne pathogens (EFSA 2007a) and both tail docking and tail biting induce stress. Furthermore, abscesses and carcass condemnation due to tail biting pose a risk to food safety (EFSA 2007a). The food safety risks associated with manipulable materials as substitute measures to prevent tail biting are summarised in section 3.2.1.1.

*Own calculations based on data from the source.

CBA summary

·In the majority of EU MS, phasing out tail docking has not yet been accomplished. Therefore, the costs and benefits of phasing out tail docking are mainly hypothetical.

·Because tail docking is carried out in order to prevent tail biting, the costs and benefits of phasing out tail docking are connected to the substitute measures employed to prevent tail biting. The single most specific measure currently required by EU legislation to prevent tail biting is the supply of manipulable material (see section 3.2.1.1). However, experiences from MS where tail docking was successfully phased out suggest that further changes in husbandry practices are required to successfully phase out tail docking. These changes are expected to entail substantial costs and benefits but an assessment is out of the scope of this study.

·If routine tail docking is phased out, all animals are spared a painful intervention but if no substitute measures are employed to effectively prevent tail biting, the number of tail biting victims will most likely increase. There has been a first attempt to weigh up ‘less suffering for all’ vs. ‘more suffering for few’ but clearly this is a rather theoretical approach and it does not capture the intention of the provision which is to effectively prevent tail biting by other means than tail docking.

·In experimental settings, consumers have stated an additional WTP for phasing out surgical procedures including tail docking but research in this regard is scarce.

·The effects of phasing out routine tail docking on the environment are expected to be related to the substitute measures employed to prevent tail biting (see section 3.2.1.1).

·If tail docking is phased out and tail biting is not effectively prevented by other means, this can have negative consequences for food safety.

Castration

BAU

The current provisions (surgical castration of piglets > 7 days of age only under anaesthesia and prolonged analgesia by veterinarian) have applied since 2001 with a transitional period until 2003. Before that, an age limit of 4 weeks under Directive 91/630/EEC (since 1991 with a transitional period until 1994) was in place.

BAU

exceeding EU legislation

no castration (instead raising of entire males): IE (100 %), UK (100 %), ES (58 %), PT (58 %), DK (5 %) (figures from 2000; EFSA 2004)

similar/equal to EU legislation

-

surgical castration without anaesthesia and analgesia

surgical castration without anaesthesia and analgesia was carried out on piglets before and after 7 days of age (EFSA 2004; SVC 1997) but no quantitative information is available regarding the age distribution

Alternatives of compliance considered in the analysis

surgical castration with anaesthesia and

analgesia carried out by veterinarian on piglets > 7 days of age

- small minority of pigs in the MS where surgical castration is commonly practiced and no further national legislation exists (Briyne et al. 2016; Alleweldt et al. 2013; Fredriksen et al. 2009)

- e.g. DE (< 1 %), DK (0 %), FR (0 %), IT (0,5 %) (Briyne et al. 2016)

surgical castration without anaesthesia and analgesia on piglets ≤ 7 days of age

- In the majority of MS where surgical castration is commonly practiced and no further national legislation exists, male pigs are either castrated without anaesthesia and analgesia or with analgesia only (Briyne et al. 2016; Alleweldt et al. 2013; Fredriksen et al. 2009).

- castration without anaesthesia and analgesia: e.g. DE (0 %), DK (5 %), FR (50 %), IT (97 %) (Briyne et al. 2016)

- castration with analgesia only: e.g. DE (99 %), DK (95 % due to national legislation), FR (50 %), IT (2,5 %) (Briyne et al. 2016)

Businesses (farm) direct compliance costs

change in total production costs compared to BAU

[% per kg pig meat]

change in total production costs compared to BAU 

[Mio. €/year]

hypothetical scenarios: share of production volume for which production practices were adjusted

Provision

min

central

max

25 %

50 %

75 %

100 %

castration

No cost estimates, as no real additional costs due to compliance with minimum requirements of legislation compared to BAU could be identified

Animal, consumer, environment, public health costs and benefits (direct and indirect)

Costs and benefits

animals

- There is consensus that castration is painful at any age (Prunier et al. 2020; Aluwé et al. 2016; Rault et al. 2011; Borell et al. 2009; Prunier et al. 2006). Limited recent evidence on tail docking suggests that pain perception might be less intense in the first 7 days of age compared to 10-15 days of age (Kells et al. 2019; reviewed by Prunier et al. 2020). Furthermore, there is some (but limited) evidence indicating that wound healing might be better during the first days of life compared to the first weeks (reviewed by Prunier et al. 2020; Rault et al. 2011).

- As reviewed by Prunier et al. (2020), local anaesthesia and general anaesthesia (via injection or inhalation of isoflurane) in combination with analgesia can be expected to alleviate pain compared to castration without anaesthesia and analgesia. However, Prunier et al. (2020) underline that full pain and stress relief cannot be expected. Potential drawbacks of anaesthesia have been described such as hypothermia for general anaesthesia via injection and increased bleeding for general anaesthesia via inhalation (isoflurane) (reviewed by Prunier et al. 2020). As reviewed by Aluwé et al. (2016), there is some evidence that this might result in additional piglet losses.

consumers

In a literature review, Font-i-Furnols et al. (2019) conclude that consumers (from different EU MS and third countries) are mostly not well informed about the castration of piglets but that the acceptance of castration with anaesthesia is generally higher than of castration without anaesthesia. In a recent internet survey, Aluwé et al. (2020) find that 87 % of laypersons (from different EU MS) consider castration with anaesthesia acceptable while only 27 % indicate that they find castration without anaesthesia acceptable. In a discrete choice experiment, Latacz‐Lohmann and Schreiner (2019) elicit an additional WTP of + 8,5 %* [per kg carcass weight of slaughter pig] among German consumers for the use of anaesthesia during surgical procedures (for both, castration and tail docking) as compared to surgery without anaesthesia. Integrating information on EU consumers’ WTP and theoretical considerations from the Welfare Quality® Assessment Protocol, Alleweldt et al. (2013) provide an estimate of the AW benefits ‘for society’ of castration with anaesthesia and analgesia. This estimate corresponds to + 0,7 %* [per kg carcass weight of slaughter pig] compared to castration without anaesthesia and analgesia.

environment

Isoflurane is a greenhouse gas and therefore, a trade-off exists regarding its use for general anaesthesia via inhalation.

public health

- So far, it has not been reported that the use of anaesthesia and analgesia might have effects on the quality of pigmeat (reviewed by Aluwé et al. 2016).

- Adverse health effects have been reported by staff administering isoflurane for general anaesthesia via inhalation (reviewed by Aluwé et al. 2016) and precautions need to be taken to avoid inhalation.

*Own calculations based on data from the source.

CBA summary

·The proportion of producers who performed castration on piglets older than 7 days of age before the provision came into force is unknown. These producers either had the choice to shift to a younger age or to have a veterinarian perform the intervention under anaesthesia and analgesia. In view of the additional costs if castration is carried out by a veterinarian, it is not surprising that this alternative of compliance is rarely practiced.

·Performing castration with anaesthesia and analgesia is expected to be beneficial to animal welfare. The weight of evidence indicates that for castration without anaesthesia and analgesia, the shift to a younger age does not have relevant benefits regarding pain. However, limited evidence suggests that wound healing might be better at a younger age.

·Consumers are mostly not well informed about castration but in a number of studies they have consistently preferred castration with anaesthesia and analgesia over castration without. Furthermore, in experimental settings consumers have stated an additional WTP for the use of anaesthesia and analgesia.

Floor properties for weaners and rearing pigs

BAU

The current provisions have applied since 2003 with a transitional period until 2013. The details of the provision were as follows: max. opening width of 14 mm (weaners) / 18 mm (rearing pigs) and min. slat width of 50 mm (weaners) / 80 mm (rearing pigs). Before that, there were no provisions in place regarding properties of slatted floors.

BAU

exceeding EU legislation

-

similar/equal to EU legislation

- conventional husbandry practice for rearing pigs: slat openings typically measure between 17-20 mm (EFSA 2007c) which complies with EU legislation when taking into account tolerance levels of 2-3 mm

concrete slatted floors with a larger opening width and/or smaller slat width

estimates for EU average by EFSA (2007c):

5-15 % of weaners up to 10 weeks of age (most likely estimate: 10 %; high level of uncertainty)

5-20 % of rearing pigs from 10 weeks onwards (most likely estimate: 10 %; high level of uncertainty)

10-30 % of rearing pigs > 110 kg (most likely estimate: 15 %; high level of uncertainty)

Alternatives of compliance considered in the analysis

concrete slatted floors with an opening width and slat width according to the provision

Most likely, only a minority of producers had to adjust their premises in order to comply with the provision (see above).



Businesses (farm) direct compliance costs

change in total production costs compared to BAU

[% per kg pig meat]

change in total production costs compared to BAU 

[Mio. €/year]

hypothetical scenarios: share of production volume for which production practices were adjusted

Provision

min

central

max

25 %

50 %

75 %

100 %

floor properties weaners / rearing pigs

0

0,8

1,6

54,8

109,6

164,4

219,2

Animal, consumer, environment, public health costs and benefits (direct and indirect)

Costs and benefits

animals

The effects of slatted floors on the incidence of claw injuries do not only depend on the width of slats and openings but also on further parameters such as the abrasiveness of the surface and the sharpness of edges (reviewed by EFSA 2005a). Moreover, the effect of the same slat width and opening width on pen hygiene may differ when the floor is fully slatted or partially slatted (reviewed by Vermeij et al. 2009). The available literature is often confounded by these factors (reviewed by Vermeij et al. 2009; EFSA 2005a) and the more recent literature has rarely investigated the effects of slatted floors with limits that are less strict than those in EU legislation (Devillers et al. 2019). These limitations should be taken into account but nevertheless, it seems appropriate to conclude that injuries would be more likely if the slat width was smaller and/or the opening width larger than provided by EU legislation (reviewed by Vermeij et al. 2009; EFSA 2005a). Regarding pen hygiene, larger openings are generally associated with better hygiene (reviewed by Philippe et al. 2011b; EFSA 2005a) but the limits set in the provision are in the range of what is recommended to ensure good pen hygiene (reviewed by Vermeij et al. 2009).

consumers

No data could be obtained on how consumers perceive the introduction of limits for slat width and opening width.

environment

Generally, larger openings facilitate drainage and thereby, decrease NH3 emissions from slatted floors (reviewed by Philippe et al. 2011b) but the limits set in the provision are in the range of what is recommended to ensure good drainage (reviewed by Vermeij et al. 2009). Other factors affect drainage and emissions as well (e.g. shape of slats) and should not be neglected (reviewed by Philippe et al. 2011b; Vermeij et al. 2009). With the available evidence, it is not possible to assess the effects of slat width and opening width on CH4, N2O and CO2 emissions separately from other factors (e.g. whether the floor is fully or partially slatted) (reviewed by Philippe and Nicks 2015).

public health

In general, injuries can cause stress and thereby, facilitate the propagation of food-borne pathogens (EFSA 2007a). Injuries may also result in carcass condemnation which is a potential risk to food safety (EFSA 2007a). Furthermore, poor pen hygiene due to insufficient drainage can increase the survival and transmission of pathogens (EFSA 2007a).

CBA summary

·When the provision was introduced, the large majority of farms were already compliant because the requirements (taking into account tolerance levels) were considered conventional husbandry practice.

·Cost estimates for those producers who had to adjust their premises are scarce. Based on limited data, the costs for complying with the requirements when constructing a new building are probably negligible but when an old building had to be transformed, costs were likely substantial.

·The provision only covers a single aspect that is important when assessing the effects of slatted floors on animal welfare and the environment. It can be concluded, that increasing the slat width or reducing the opening width in order to comply with the requirements most likely had positive effects on animal welfare and no relevant effects on drainage, pen hygiene and ammonia emissions.

Floor area for weaners and rearing pigs

BAU

The current provisions (minimum floor area for weaners and rearing pigs, dependent on live weight) have applied since 1994 with a transitional period until 1998. Before that, no provisions regarding minimum floor area were in place.

BAU

exceeding EU legislation

As reviewed by SVC (1997), the minimum floor area required by EU legislation corresponds to the threshold below which a decline in animal productivity can be expected. Therefore, it is unlikely that producers would deliberately choose floor areas below the EU minimum as this would counteract their economic interests. 437  

Examples from the MS support this argument:

- German expert guidelines on barn construction from 1979 suggest that it was conventional husbandry practice to provide similar floor areas even before they were required by German national legislation in 1988 and later by EU legislation (KTBL 1979; Schweinehaltungsverordnung 1988).

- In Denmark, it appears to be conventional husbandry practice to provide a floor area of 0,7 m² in the finishing stage although only 0,65 m² are required by legislation (D'Eath et al. 2016).

similar/equal to EU legislation

floor area below minimum requirements

Alternatives of compliance considered in the analysis

floor area according to minimum requirements

Most likely, the minimum floor areas required by EU legislation correspond to conventional husbandry practices in intensive pig farming.



Businesses (farm) direct compliance costs

change in total production costs compared to BAU

[% per kg pig meat]

change in total production costs compared to BAU 

[Mio. €/year]

hypothetical scenarios: share of production volume for which production practices were adjusted

Provision

min

central

max

25 %

50 %

75 %

100 %

Floor area

Most likely, producers do not face relevant additional costs due to the minimum floor areas required by EU legislation because the requirements correspond to conventional husbandry practices

Animal, consumer, environment, public health costs and benefits (direct and indirect)

Costs and benefits

animals

Most likely, the minimum limits for floor areas required by EU legislation have no relevant effect on AW, consumers, the environment and public health as they correspond to conventional husbandry practices.

consumers

environment

public health

CBA summary

The requirements for minimum floor areas most likely correspond to conventional husbandry practices in intensive pig farming. In consequence, no relevant effects on producers’ costs, AW, consumers, the environment and public health are expected.

Group housing for gestation sows

BAU

The current provisions (group housing starting from four weeks after service until one week before expected farrowing) have applied since 2003 with a transitional period until 2013. Before that, no time limits for confinement in gestation crates were in place.

BAU

exceeding EU legislation

SE (since 1994), UK (since 1999) (Mul et al. 2010; Lay and Marchant-Forde 2009)

NL (since 1998 with transitional period until 2008) (Vermeer et al. 1999)

similar/equal to EU legislation

EU average of 11 MS: 25 %; range 4 % (BE) - 70 % (FI) (Hendriks and Weerdhof 1999)

confinement in gestation crates or tethering during the whole gestation period

EU average of 11 MS: 75 %; range 30 % (FI) - 96 % (BE) (Hendriks and Weerdhof 1999)

Alternatives of compliance considered in the analysis

group housing starting from four weeks after service until one week before expected farrowing

Group housing was successfully implemented in all MS (EPRS 2021; ECA 2018). However, a large variety of systems exist that differ especially with regards to feeding technology (e.g. ESF – electronic sow feeder, trickle feeder) and flooring (e.g. slatted, deep litter). Currently, no quantitative information is available on the distribution of these systems in the MS. The European Agricultural Census 2020 is expected to contain information on flooring but it is not going to be published until the second half of 2022 (European Commission 2022a). Census data from Germany was obtained in advance and indicates that the proportion of sows 438 reared in systems with fully or partially floor has increased since 2010 and amounts to about 92 % in 2020 (Statistisches Bundesamt 2021, 2011). Therefore, the following analysis focuses on systems with slatted floor.

Businesses (farm) compliance costs (direct and indirect)

change in total production costs compared to BAU

[% per kg pig meat]

change in total production costs compared to BAU 

[Mio. €/year]

hypothetical scenarios: share of production volume for which production practices were adjusted

Provision

min

central

max

25 %

50 %

75 %

100 %

Group housing for gestating sows

-2,9

0,5

1,5

34,3

68,5

102,8

137,0

Note: In this case, the central value does not constitute the mean value between minimum and maximum value. There was only one study that displayed due to the provision, these rather impressive cost savings. However, even there, the authors highlightd that this was an exceptionally well managed farm and not representative of the farms in the sector. In this case, an “informed choice” based on the remaining studies has been made for the central value.

Generally, equal levels of reproductive performance can be achieved in group housing systems as compared to individual confinement in crates (reviewed by Spoolder and Vermeer 2015; McGlone 2013). However, whether this potential is actually reached in practice depends on (among other factors) the individual characteristics of the group housing system (especially with regards to feeding technology) and on management practices (particularly in connection to the mixing of sows) (reviewed by Salak-Johnson 2017; Peltoniemi et al. 2016). In general, management is more challenging for group housing systems than for confinement in crates (reviewed by Peltoniemi et al. 2021) but learning effects over time have been observed and have resulted in positive effects on overall economic performance (Mitchell et al. 2017).

Animal, consumer, environment, public health costs and benefits (direct and indirect)

Costs and benefits

animals

There is consensus that group housing of sows during gestation has the potential to increase AW compared to confinement in crates because group housing is closer to the sows’ physiological and social needs (e.g. free movement, social interaction with other sows) (reviewed by Schubbert et al. 2020; Maes et al. 2016; Spoolder and Vermeer 2015). However, there is also consensus that group housing does not automatically increase AW and that in practice, the actual AW outcomes are highly dependent on (among other factors) the individual characteristics of the group housing systems (e.g. with regards to flooring, space allowance, feeding technology) and management practices (e.g. related to mixing of sows) (reviewed by Schubbert et al. 2020; Maes et al. 2016; Spoolder and Vermeer 2015; Verdon et al. 2015). In view of this, it is not surprising that in the past, as reviewed by McGlone (2013), often no benefits to AW were found when group housing was compared to confinement in gestation crates. In general, management is more challenging in group housing systems than in individual crates (reviewed by Peltoniemi et al. 2021) but learning effects over time are expected to occur and to result in benefits to AW (Mitchell et al. 2017).

consumers

- By means of the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘End the Cage Age’, European consumers from different MS have recently expressed their prefer-ence to phase out cages and confinement crates for a variety of species, including sows.

- In a discrete choice experiment conducted by Lagerkvist et al. (2006), Swedish consumers have stated an additional WTP of + 21,6 %* [per kg carcass weight of slaughter pig] for the transition from permanent confinement of sows to confinement only during farrowing.

environment

Group housing systems can be associated with higher, lower or unchanged NH3 emissions compared to individual confinement in crates (Santonja et al. 2017; Mosquera et al. 2010; Groenestein et al. 2001). The emission profile in group housing depends on factors such as slurry management, presence of bedding and diet (Santonja et al. 2017; Philippe et al. 2011a; Philippe et al. 2011b). Comparative data on emissions of other greenhouse gases and dust is scarce and does not allow for definite conclusions to be drawn (Santonja et al. 2017; Mosquera et al. 2010).

public health

- Evidence on the relationship between group housing and disease is scarce (reviewed by Maes et al. 2016). In general, stress can facilitate the propagation of food-borne pathogens (Maes et al. 2016; EFSA 2007a) but if group housing systems are appropriately constructed, stress can be managed successfully (reviewed by Schubbert et al. 2020; Maes et al. 2016; Spoolder and Vermeer 2015). There are few studies available that have investigated the sows’ immune response in group housing systems compared to confinement in crates and these studies did not find relevant differences between the systems (reviewed by Maes et al. 2016). It has been hypothesised that nose-to-nose contact between sows and oral contact with excrements in group housing (if no separate areas for lying and defecation are available) could facilitate the transmission of pathogens but as reviewed by Maes et al. (2016), no research is available in this regard. More recently, comparative studies on group housing vs. confinement are not a research priority anymore.

- Generally, injuries can result in carcass condemnation which is a potential risk to food safety (EFSA 2007a). The incidence of injuries in group housing systems depends on the individual characteristics of the housing environment and on management practices (reviewed by Schubbert et al. 2020; Maes et al. 2016; Spoolder and Vermeer 2015; McGlone 2013) and therefore, no definite conclusions can be drawn in this regard.

*Own calculations based on data from the source.

CBA summary

·Producers’ costs of introducing group housing depend on whether the investments were made at the end of the depreciation period of the existing building or whether investments had to be shouldered on top of the ongoing depreciation which would have led to additional disinvestments. Unfortunately, the available studies often do not contain detailed information in this regard. The transitional period of 10 years is expected to have decreased the share of producers who faced disinvestments.

·For the transition to group housing on slatted floors, total cost changes in the range of - 2,9 % to + 1,5 % [per kg carcass weight of slaughter pig] have been reported, dependent on the type of modification (new building, transformation of old building, feeding technology etc.) and on the cost and revenue items that were taken into account. Therefore, the transition to group housing has the potential to result in efficiency gains and cost reductions.

·Group housing has the potential to improve AW compared to confinement in crates. However, the AW outcomes achieved in practice depend to a great extent on the individual characteristics of the group housing systems and on management for which no detailed requirements are laid down in EU legislation.

·In an experimental setting, consumers have stated an additional WTP for group housing of sows compared to confinement in crates. However, research in the European context is scarce.

·The effects of group housing on the environment and public health depend on how these systems are constructed and managed in practice. Therefore, no general relationship exists between the transition to group housing and environmental or public health outcomes.

Dietary fibre content

BAU

The current provisions have applied since 2001 with a transitional period until 2003. The details of the provisions are the following: sufficient quantity of bulky or high-fibre food as well as high-energy food for dry pregnant sows and gilts in order to satisfy their hunger and their need to chew. Before, no provisions regarding dietary fibre content were in place.

BAU

exceeding EU legislation

-

similar/equal to EU legislation

-

insufficient quantity of high-fibre food

estimates for EU average by EFSA (2007b):

50-98 % of pregnant sows (most likely estimate: 60 %; high level of uncertainty) are offered a diet with < 20 % crude fibre content and do not have access to appropriate foraging material as compensation

Alternatives of compliance considered in the analysis

sufficient quantity of high-fibre food

As the provision does not set a specific threshold, there is room for interpretation regarding compliance. In a Scientific Report from 2007, the EFSA AHAW panel points out that at the time, it was not even clear from a scientific standpoint how a diet would have to be formulated in order to comply with the provision. For the purpose of carrying out surveys and risk assessments, a threshold of 20 % crude fibre content was proposed (EFSA 2007b).

Businesses (farm) direct compliance costs

change in total production costs compared to BAU

[% per kg pig meat]

change in total production costs compared to BAU 

[Mio. €/year]

hypothetical scenarios: share of production volume for which production practices were adjusted

Provision

min

central

max

25 %

50 %

75 %

100 %

Dietary fibre content

- In the external study by Menghi et al. (2014), compliance with the provision on high-fibre food was associated with additional costs to producers. However, the study only gives a joint cost estimate for the provisions on high-fibre food, group housing, slatted floors and manipulable material altogether. This cost estimate amounts to + 0,6 % to + 3,55 % [per kg carcass weight of slaughter pig] depending on the MS (see Table in the Annex). No further information is given with regards to the individual cost items that were the drivers for this cost increase.

- No further data could be obtained to quantify the costs of providing high-fibre food to gestating sows. A qualitative assessment of the costs is difficult as many factors have to be considered: High-fibre diets may be associated with additional costs for suitable feeding equipment or for labour if roughage is distributed manually. Furthermore, the effects on feed costs may be positive or negative as high-fibre food itself can be a comparatively low-cost feed component (reviewed by Woyengo et al. 2014) but its contribution to energy supply is limited (reviewed by Meunier-Salaün and Bolhuis 2015) and the digestibility of other nutrients may be reduced in high-fibre diets (reviewed by Trottier et al. 2015). Similarly, the effects of high-fibre diets on revenue are difficult to predict because it has not yet been clearly established how high-fibre diets affect the reproductive performance of sows (reviewed by Jarrett and Ashworth 2018; Meunier-Salaün and Bolhuis 2015).

Animal, consumer, environment, public health costs and benefits (direct and indirect)

Costs and benefits

animals

- High-fibre diets have frequently been reported to contribute to animal welfare by increasing satiety and thereby decreasing feeding motivation and stereotypical behaviours (reviewed by Jarrett and Ashworth 2018; Meunier-Salaün and Bolhuis 2015; Verdon et al. 2015; EFSA 2007b). Furthermore, high-fibre diets contribute to the prevention of gastric ulcers (reviewed by EFSA 2007b). However, the extent of these effects depends on additional factors that are not part of the provision such as fibre quantity, fibre source, physicochemical properties of the fibres and parity of the sow (reviewed by Meunier-Salaün and Bolhuis 2015; Verdon et al. 2015; EFSA 2007b).

- Dietary fibre can act as a prebiotic with beneficial effects on the gut microbiome (reviewed by Lindberg 2014).

consumers

-

environment

- The net effects of high-fibre diets on NH3 emission may differ under practical conditions as high-fibre diets may on the one hand decrease NH3 emissions (urea transfer from urine to faeces; lower slurry pH due to volatile fatty acids from fibre fermentation) but may also increase NH3 emissions (pen fouling due to higher viscosity of faeces) (Philippe et al. 2011b). As reviewed by Philippe and Nicks (2015), CH4 emissions are generally believed to increase when high-fibre diets are supplied (bacterial fermentation). The effects of high-fibre diets on N2O emissions depend on the presence of bedding material and the effects on CO2 emissions have not yet been clearly established (reviewed by Philippe and Nicks 2015).

- Under practical conditions, the effects of high-fibre diets for sows on emissions have rarely been investigated. Philippe et al. (2015) find that a high-fibre diet is associated with a reduction in total NH3 emissions from pens and with an increase in CH4 emissions but has no effect on N2O and CO2 emissions. Ebertz et al. (2020) observe poorer pen hygiene when a high-fibre diet is supplied but do not measure emissions.

public health

In general, if stress occurs e.g. due to a lack of satiety, this can facilitate the propagation of food-borne pathogens and pose a risk to food safety (EFSA 2007a).

CBA summary

·In order to reliably assess costs and benefits of the provision, it would have to be known how exactly high-fibre diets are formulated in practice in the MS and to take into account factors such as fibre quantity, physicochemical properties of fibres and fibre source. However, these data are not available.

·Producers’ costs have been quantified in the past on an aggregate level together with other provisions. Further quantitative or qualitative estimates cannot be provided because information is lacking regarding the individual cost and revenue items that drive producers’ costs.

·High-fibre diets are generally expected to improve animal welfare but the actual effects depend on the above-mentioned factors that are currently not regulated in EU legislation and for which no data could be obtained.

·It is not possible to draw definite conclusions regarding the effects of the provision on cumulative greenhouse gas emissions.

Manipulable material for group-housed sows and nesting material for sows around farrowing

BAU

The current provisions have applied since 2001 with a transitional period until 2003. Before, similar provisions had applied under Directive 91/630/EEC.

BAU

exceeding EU legislation

e.g. straw-based systems or outdoor systems

EU average of 12 MS: 10 % (Hendriks and Weerdhof 1999)

similar/equal to EU legislation

e.g. DE: national legislation (Schweinehaltungs-VO 1988)

no supply of materials

or objects

e.g. NL: 57 % of farms (all pig categories) in 2000 (EC Audit Report 2005-7512)

estimates for EU average by EFSA (2007b):

lack of foraging/exploration material:

30-80 % of dry sows (most likely estimate: 60 %; medium level of uncertainty)

50-80 % of pregnant sows (most likely estimate: 70 %; high level of uncertainty)

85-98 % of farrowing sows (most likely estimate: 90 %; low level of uncertainty)

lack of nest-building material:

85-98 % of farrowing sows (most likely estimate: 90 %; low level of uncertainty)

Alternatives of compliance considered in the analysis

supply of loose materials

estimates for EU average by EFSA (2007b):

access to substrates for foraging/exploration but in quantity < 100 g per sow:

10-30 % of dry sows (most likely estimate: 20 %; medium level of uncertainty)

10-40 % of pregnant sows (most likely estimate: 20 %; high level of uncertainty)

1-10 % of farrowing sows (most likely estimate: 5 %; low level of uncertainty)

access to substrates for nest building but in quantity < 2,5 kg per sow:

1-10 % of farrowing sows (most likely estimate: 5 %; low level of uncertainty)

supply of objects

e.g. metal chains ± objects accepted by competent authorities in NL, DE, CZ, AT (EC Audit Reports 2005-7512, 2008-7980, 2010-8384, 2011-6096)

NL: chains as the only enrichments in the majority of farms (all pig categories) (EC Audit Report 2005-7512)

estimates for EU average by EFSA (2007b):

access to materials such as chains, tyres for foraging/exploration:

1-5 % of dry sows (most likely estimate: 2 %; medium level of uncertainty)

1-5 % of pregnant sows (most likely estimate: 2 %; high level of uncertainty)

1-5 % of farrowing sows (most likely estimate: 3 %; medium level of uncertainty)

access to materials such as chains, tyres for nest building:

1-5 % of farrowing sows (most likely estimate: 3 %; medium level of uncertainty)

Businesses (farm) direct compliance costs

change in total production costs compared to BAU

[% per kg pig meat]

change in total production costs compared to BAU 

[Mio. €/year]

hypothetical scenarios: share of production volume for which production practices were adjusted

Provision

min

central

max

25 %

50 %

75 %

100 %

Loose material

0,08

0,3

0,5

19,4

38,8

58,2

77,6

Objects

0,005

0,08

0,2

5,3

10,6

15,9

21,2

In addition, the following observations can be made, based on the literature:

·Estimates of the costs of providing enrichments specifically to sows and gilts could not be obtained. However, the same materials/objects as for weaners and rearing pigs can be used for sows and gilts as well. Assuming that these materials/objects are available every day to all sows and gilts at a breeding unit and that further technical parameters 439 apply, the following approximation holds: costssows+gilts =   costsrearing pigs [per kg carcass weight of slaughter pig]. Tail biting is an issue for rearing gilts as well (Ursinus et al. 2014) and it is expected to lead to foregone revenue and increased costs but for breeding units, no quantifications exist.

·With regards to enrichments for sows, the research priority has been the supply of nest-building material prepartum while only few studies have focused on enrichments during lactation and gestation (reviewed by Weerd and Ison 2019; Galli et al. 2021).

·In general, the expression of nest-building behaviour has been associated with positive effects on the reproductive performance of sows (reviewed by Peltoniemi et al. 2021; Peltoniemi and Oliviero 2015; EFSA 2014; Wischner et al. 2009). However, when sows are confined in farrowing crates (which is a common husbandry practice in the EU) their ability to perform nest-building behaviour is restricted even if nest-building material is supplied (reviewed by Peltoniemi et al. 2021; Peltoniemi and Oliviero 2015; EFSA 2014; Vanheukelom et al. 2012; Wischner et al. 2009). To date, it has not been systematically reviewed whether the supply of nest-building materials in farrowing crates can lead to productivity gains that could possibly offset the costs of the materials.

Animal, consumer, environment, public health costs and benefits (direct and indirect)

Additional costs and benefits

animals

- In general, the same ranking of enrichments according to their potential AW benefits as established for weaners and rearing pigs is believed to apply for sows and gilts as well although the body of research for these pig categories is smaller (reviewed by EFSA 2014).

- With regards to enrichments for sows, the research priority has been the supply of nest-building materials prepartum while only few studies have focused on enrichments during lactation and gestation (reviewed by Weerd and Ison 2019; Galli et al. 2021).

- There is consensus that the expression of nest-building behaviour prepartum is of high importance for AW (reviewed by Peltoniemi et al. 2021; Peltoniemi and Oliviero 2015; EFSA 2014; Vanheukelom et al. 2012; Wischner et al. 2009). Although nest-building behaviour cannot be fully expressed in farrowing crates due to confinement, the supply of nest-building materials is nevertheless considered to improve AW (reviewed by Vanheukelom et al. 2012). Regarding the relative AW benefits of different nest-building materials in farrowing crates, research is limited compared to weaners and rearing pigs. Materials have to stay in reach of the confined sows which makes it difficult to provide loose materials in an attractive way (reviewed by EFSA 2014) and could explain why in recent studies, jute sacks (Bolhuis et al. 2018) and newspaper (Swan et al. 2018) were preferred over straw.

- During gestation, when sows are fed restrictively, the motivation to explore enrichments is generally high and loose materials with edible components are considered to be most suitable (reviewed by EFSA 2014; Verdon et al. 2015). The role that enrichments can play in group housing systems to reduce aggressive behaviours during mixing is not yet clearly established (reviewed by Verdon et al. 2015). If enrichments are not managed appropriately, additional competition over these resources can occur (reviewed by Schubbert et al. 2020; Verdon et al. 2015).

consumers

From studies on rearing pigs, evidence on consumers’ WTP for enrichments is available (see section 3.2.1.1) but the extent to which these findings can be transferred to sows in group housing and in farrowing crates is uncertain.

environment

- There is no evidence available on the effects of providing objects, however no relevant impacts are expected.

- Research on the effects of providing organic loose materials in small quantities (i.e. as enrichments, not as bedding) is scarce. In general, these materials may decrease NH3 emissions (more assimilation, crust as physical barrier) and increase N2O emissions (aerobic-anaerobic conditions in crust) and CH4 emissions (bacterial fermentation) (Blanes-Vidal et al. 2008).

- Further limited evidence is available from studies in fattening units (see section 3.2.1.1) but the extent to which these findings can be transferred to sows in group housing and in farrowing crates is uncertain.

public health

- As reviewed by EFSA (2007a), there is a lack of evidence on the effects of enrichment materials on the safety of pigmeat. When different pigs use the same enrichment material, this could possibly increase the transmission of pathogens between animals. In general, stress can facilitate the propagation of food-borne pathogens. Furthermore, abscesses and carcass condemnation due to tail biting pose a risk to food safety. (EFSA 2007a)

- In a peer-reviewed literature review, Lahrssen-Wiederholt et al. (2016) suggest that loose materials as well as objects may contain undesirable substances (e.g. toxic metals, dioxins in loose materials and BPA or phthalates in plastic objects). The authors point out that it cannot be excluded that this poses a food safety risk in practice. More recent evidence underlines the importance of considering these issues (Koch et al. 2022; Koch et al. 2021).

CBA summary

·While a large body of research is available on enrichments for weaners and rearing pigs, less is known about enrichments for sows and gilts in group housing during gestation and in farrowing crates.

·In general, the same ranking of enrichments according to potential AW benefits as established for weaners and rearing pigs is expected to apply for sows and gilts as well. However, in farrowing crates where nest-building behaviour is generally restricted and the supply of loose materials in reach of the sows is challenging, jute sacks and newspapers have recently been reported to be more beneficial than straw. This remains to be further investigated.

·Estimates of producers’ costs of supplying enrichments specifically to sows and rearing gilts could not be obtained. However, as the same objects and materials can be used for rearing pigs and sows/gilts, producers’ costs can be approximated with the help of a cost factor. In view of the available evidence, it is not possible to determine to what extent the costs of enrichments can be offset by potential productivity gains.

·The effects of different enrichments on the environment have not yet been clearly established.

·Possible positive and negative effects of different enrichments on public health exist and remain to be further investigated.

Provisions in total