EU tables plans to ban low-welfare meat

Ambitious proposals to ban the sale of European Union (EU) reared meat in all 27 member states where livestock has suffered from poor welfare have been tabled by the European Parliament’s agriculture committee.

Advising the European Commission to swiftly draft a new ‘action plan on the protection and welfare of animals’ for 2011-2015, MEPs said: “The EU ought to, as soon as possible, adopt a strong general animal welfare law, which accords animals the right to a life worth living…”

It should prevent “any producer [offering] animal products on the internal [EU] market, which do not comply with the conditions laid down by the general law”.

The detailed resolution was less specific about imports – because World Trade Organisation (WTO) cases have prevented governments banning imported products on the basis of animal welfare concerns.

But no such concerns would cover meat traded between EU countries (for instance to Britain from Spain, Greece, or Bulgaria) and here, said the resolution, the law could enforce a level playing field of high welfare standards.

These “vary a great deal between countries” and the uneven investment on welfare not only “results in enormous variations in living conditions for animals, but also prevents free and equitable competition between producers”, said the resolution.

>> NFU calls for animal welfare to be Europe-wide

>> Animal welfare improving on UK farms

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