European Parliament wants 'positive list' for keeping pets

EP Plenary session - Oral question - Key objectives for the CITES CoP19 meeting in Panama

The European Parliament believes that only pets that are on a Europe-wide 'positive list' may be kept in the EU. It is expected that the number of exotic animal species that can be kept would decrease sharply with such a positive list. It would also no longer be necessary to impose a ban on keeping animals separately for each animal species – usually: afterwards. 

The European Commission promised in Strasbourg this week to investigate the introduction of a European positive list. The Netherlands already has a positive list, which will apply from 2024.

A majority of the European Parliament also wants stricter measures against trade in endangered species. Those species should be given the highest possible international protection status, which would prohibit all commercial trade in these animals. This is stated in a motion by the Party for the Animals that was passed by 549 against 28 votes in the European Parliament.

The European Commission recognizes that the EU animal welfare legislation is outdated and proposes an update. The aim is to harmonize national rules. The legislation is now more than 10 years old and no longer meets current standards and the expectations of the population. For some animal species there are no rules at all. 

For example, according to Brussels, many details still need to be defined for the protection of dairy cows. There are also gaps in legislation on land transport or the ban on keeping cages. The LNV ministers have previously agreed to update the EU animal welfare rules. 

The European Commission acknowledges shortcomings in a working document. These have led some EU member states to tighten their national requirements. In order to restore uniform rules for all farmers in the EU, animal welfare legislation must be updated urgently, the European Commission warns. 

Worldwide, approximately one million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction due to human activity. It is important that the European Union does its utmost to save animal species that are on the brink of extinction at the upcoming international CITES conference (mid-November in Panama), said MEP Anja Hazekamp (Party for the Animals). 

She criticized the European Commission's lax stance during the previous CITES summit in 2019. When Europe refused to support a proposal from African countries to protect the African elephant. “Their numbers have only continued to fall in the meantime,” Hazekamp told the Commission.