In its reply of 21 December 2016 to a letter sent to the Commission by 38 MEPs calling for an EU Action Plan to tackle the illegal trade in dogs and cats, Commissioner Andriukaitis stated that the study on the welfare of dogs and cats involved in commercial practices ‘has not revealed areas of concern that could be best addressed at EU level’.
The study did specifically indicate that the EU should take action to protect companion animal welfare and consumer protection related to companion animals in commercial practices. For example, page 31 states that the EU is the ‘preferred responsible body’ for further regulation, information and education to improve current legislation on dog and cat welfare.
1. Does the Commission intend to disregard the conclusions from the study, including responses from competent authorities, citizens, breeder organisations and NGOs, as well as calls from MEPs, asking for animal welfare, public health and consumer protection related to the trade in companion animals in the EU to be better protected specifically at EU level?
2. How does the Commission intend to press Member States to develop the tools and procedures needed to perform official checks to verify compliance with the applicable rules?
As the Commission pointed out in its answers to written questions E-002848/2016, E-005544/2016, E-006758/2016 and E-007387/2016 and to an email sent on 5 December 2016 by several Honourable Members which address the study on the welfare of dogs and cats involved in commercial practices, the Commission must act within the scope of the empowerments conferred on it by the European Parliament and the Council. In this respect, while the cross-border movement of dogs and cats is regulated by EU animal health legislation, the welfare of dogs and cats, especially their keeping and breeding for non-commercial and commercial purposes, is not governed by EU rules and is therefore the sole responsibility of the Member States. In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, the Commission considers that this objective cannot be better achieved at Union level and the responsibility for its achievement should therefore be left to the Member States. The Commission is consequently not considering any new legislative initiatives to regulate the welfare conditions of dogs and cats.
The Commission has taken several initiatives so far to assist Member States in tackling illegal trade in dogs and cats such as training of Member States’ officials, regular exchanges of views at the meetings of the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed and the setting up of a “national pet contact points” network to facilitate exchange of information and intelligence amongst national authorities in relation to illegal practices.