MEPs call on the European Commission to establish an animal welfare portfolio

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More than 145,000 EU citizens and more than 155 MEPs from all political groups have joined an EU-wide campaign calling for animal welfare to be prioritized, including by creating a Directorate-General for the Commission and a Commissioner responsible for the matter.

Specifically, MEPs want the Commissioner to be responsible for health, food safety and animal welfare, which would greatly support both the legislation and its proper enforcement.

The move was enthusiastically welcomed by Alison Bezzina, Malta’s Animal Welfare Commissioner, who expressed her full support for the proposal. While acknowledging that people have long had a great deal of empathy for pets such as dogs, cats and horses, Bezzina noted that recent increases in awareness of factory farming and other animal functions caused considerable public concern across the EU.

Maltese Commissioner for Animal Welfare, Alison Bezzina.

“We can see this from all the surveys and research carried out by the EU itself and also from independent studies,” she said. “In addition to increased empathy for animals, people are realizing that animal welfare is an important part of sustainability. It is now common knowledge that when an animal’s welfare is poor, there is an increased risk of disease, and therefore improved welfare generally improves health and reduces disease,” said explained Bezzina.

The proposal would also involve the creation of an animal welfare directorate.

“It would help create accountability and move things forward after years of apathy,” Bezzina added, noting that animal welfare is also directly linked to human welfare. “In a few years, our children will read and hear how animals were treated, how humans exploited them for food and other products, and they will be shocked and ashamed of the atrocities they learn about,” she said. .

In a recent parliamentary question on this subject, a number of MEPs pointed out that responses to Eurobarometer surveys have shown that European citizens care about animals. They would also like to see their well-being improved through clear legislation, effective policies and the commitment of adequate resources.

MEPs said that although Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union recognizes animals as sentient beings, the EU institutions’ approach to the matter has been inconsistent, which has contributed to the problem of misapplication on several fronts.

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a media house initiative partly funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to Maltese citizens and keep them informed of issues that affect their daily lives. This article reflects the views of the author only. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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