CAP review to put welfare in spotlight

Animal welfare will be a key topic in a wholesale review of the European Union's (EU) Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), launched this week by the European Commission.

Speaking to the European Parliament's agriculture committee on 12 April, new EU agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos announced a two-month public consultation to gain views from environmental protection asso-ciations, consumers, animal welfare groups and meat producers. Ciolos said he valued a strong CAP, as it was "indispensible for sustainable growth, employment, green growth [and] intelligent growth".

And he stressed a key concern was enabling Europe to insist on high animal welfare standards for meat sold in member states, when it was growing trade with non-EU suppliers. "How can we manage our qualitative requirements in an EU market that is increasingly opening up to imports from third countries and in the absence of international agreements on these matters for example, in the area of animal welfare?" asked Ciolos.

World Trade Organisation rules impede members (including the EU) from restricting meat imports on animal welfare grounds usually barriers can only be erected because of human consumer health concerns.

Meanwhile, Ciolos said the CAP needed clearer payment systems "so taxpayers understand the link between support for agriculture, market supply and remuneration...". He wanted ideas on achieving this, and guaranteeing livestock and meat producer incomes, protecting the industry from market volatility.

Ciolos said a website debate would receive public contributions until June. A conference will follow in July. And a formal policy paper will be published by December.

>>Consumers back CAP support for farmers

>>NFU warns against CAP complications

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