Op 17 december 2014 schreven 44 Europarlementsleden een brief aan Vytenis Andriukaitis, commissaris voor gezondheid en voedselveiligheid, betreffende wijdverspreide inbreuken op EU wetgeving op het welzijn van varkens. De brief kan je hieronder terugvinden en dit is zijn antwoord.
Intussen vond op 25 maart ll een overleg plaats met de Commissaris. Lees hier het verslag.
Widespread breaches of EU legislation on the welfare of pigs - version 2
Legislative requirements regarding enrichment material and tail docking
In March 2014, we sent a letter to Commissioner Borg concerning the above mentioned issue. We received an answer from Commissioner Borg in April 2014.
In his letter, the Commissioner mentioned that the Commission was conducting an on-going work on guidelines which would be finalised in summer of this year. We have so far still not seen these guidelines. This is why we are now addressing the Commission again to obtain an explication and to know what the status is on this matter.
We fear, however, that guidelines may not, on their own, be sufficient to achieve a proper level of compliance with Directive 2008/120. The legislation has been in force for over eleven years and continues to be ignored by most pig farmers. It may very well be that a sector that is content to breach legislation will not feel obliged to respect guidelines. Therefore, the Commission must act to sanction the Member States that do not respect Directive 2008/120.
Furthermore, there is a danger that the pig sector will try, during the Commission’s inter-services consultation, to have the guidelines weakened. We would be grateful for your assurance that you will insist that the guidelines must be firmly based on the Scientific Reports and Opinions of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). These set out clearly what steps must be taken by farmers to comply with the Directive’s requirements on enrichment and tail docking.
Reports by the Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office and animal welfare organisations have for many years made it clear that many EU pig farmers do not comply with the requirement in Directive 2008/120 that pigs must be provided with enrichment materials and the Directive’s ban on routine tail docking. Similarly, it is clear that many Member States make no serious attempt to enforce these provisions.
We have since our first letter seen a dossier from July 2014 which has been sent to you by Compassion in World Farming. This contains recent photos from the pig sector’s own journals and websites in seven Member States. The photos clearly show many farms:
• with no enrichment at all or with just metal chains despite the fact that the Commission has made it clear that metal chains do not constitute effective enrichment and thus do not, when used on their own, fulfill the Directive’s requirements
• in which all the pigs that can be seen have been tail docked
The current situation is not only damaging to animal welfare but the continuing failure of the EU to secure compliance with this Directive is manifestly unfair on those farmers who do comply with this legislation as they find themselves at a competitive disadvantage compared with those farmers who ignore the law.
We believe that the Commission must now take additional steps to press the Member States to enforce this legislation in a manner that results in compliance being the norm rather than the exception.
In our view it would be helpful for these steps to include asking the Member States:
• what measures they have taken under Article 54 of Regulation 882/2004 on official controls when they have identified non-compliance with these provisions in order to ensure that the operator remedies the situation
• what information and instructions they give to staff performing official controls under Article 8 of Regulation 882/2004 as regards what constitutes compliance with the requirements on enrichment and tail docking
• what sanctions they have imposed. The Commission should consider whether those sanctions are effective, proportionate and dissuasive as required by Article 55 of Regulation 882/2004. The Commission cannot tell Member States what sanctions to impose but it should assure that those sanctions are indeed effective and dissuasive.
In addition, the Commission should institute infringement proceedings in the case of those Member States that are taking no effective steps to secure compliance.
The undersigned Members of the European Parliament would very much appreciate to have a meeting in January 2015 with the Commissioner to discuss the future steps of the Commission in person. Please pay attention to the fact that this letter is signed by Members from all different political groups and of 20 different nationalities. The names are listed in random order.
Bart Staes and 43 MEP's