France: protect livestock from too many EU animal welfare rules

France warns against too far-reaching expansion of European animal welfare rules and is already imposing restrictive conditions on them. For example, Paris believes that livestock farming must in any case be prevented from having to deal with new international competition.

France refuses to "create situations that would again place European livestock farming in a situation of distortion or loss of competitiveness". 

The European Commission intends to present a concrete proposal for improving animal welfare this autumn. This has been in preparation for several years and has already been discussed extensively by the European Parliament and the 27 LNV ministers. 

That is why the French minister Marc Fesneau has sent a note with five 'discussion points' to EU Commissioner Stella Kyriakides. He has held extensive consultations with the French industry on this in recent months. In the Netherlands, too, consultations are currently underway for a covenant for animal-worthy livestock farming.

The introduction of 'mirror clauses' in trade agreements and food imports, which France has already advocated, should – if it is up to Paris – be laid down in law. Recently, French agricultural organizations have already complained about the large increase in cheap imports from Ukraine, due to the lifting of import duties and the expansion of the quotas of various agricultural products.

France seems to be wary of a cage ban. Both the European Parliament and the European Commission intend to phase out caged housing, partly in response to a popular petition. That will probably not be possible before 2027.

Fesneau says that new techniques and new insights must be taken into account, and that the depreciation period of stables and equipment must also be taken into account. 

EU Commissioner Kyriakides will probably tighten the rules for the transport of animals. The current rules are not properly observed in all EU countries and the sanctions are not the same in all countries, as recently reported by the European Court of Auditors (ECA).

As a result, there is a risk that carriers will exploit loopholes in the law. In Germany, fines for violations of the transport rules run up to 25,000 euros, while in Italy they range from 1,000 to 6,000 euros.

France and Germany called last summer for a European ban on the killing of day-old roosters. Together with Austria, Spain, Ireland, Luxembourg and Portugal, these countries have already submitted a proposal to this effect in Brussels. Little has been done about it so far. France believes that this should finally be included in the new animal welfare law.

For the introduction of an animal welfare label or European quality mark, France no longer adheres to an obligation and to their previously submitted Nutriscore label, but is now talking about a voluntary scheme. It is not yet clear whether Kyriakides and the European Parliament will be satisfied with that.