Q: Manuela Ripa (Verts/ALE, DE) - Possible Commission project on tracking the illegal pet trade on digital platforms (2021-04-15)

Q: MEP Manuela Ripa (Verts/ALE, DE) -  Possible Commission project on tracking the illegal pet trade on digital platforms (2021-04-15)

Following the implementation of the ‘EU coordinated control plan on online sales of dogs and cats’ in 18 Member States, the Commission detected an overall lack of identification of animals and traders along with technical difficulties in controlling the online market.

A multitude of websites, legal difficulties for inspectors in accessing private houses, missing requirements to provide contact details in ads and a lack of information on where animals are kept, make it difficult to control the online pet trade.

Is the Commission planning to launch a project on monitoring the illegal pet trade on social media and other digital platforms, and if so, what form would it take? If not, how does the Commission intend to tackle the problem of a lack of monitoring of the online pet trade?

A: Ms Kyriakides on behalf of the European Commission

In the Information System for Rapid Alert on Food and Feed (iRASFF), Member States have reported 32 suspicious cross border movements of pets in 2020, whereas 43 cases are already notified by May 2021. The constant increase of exchanges within the Alert and Cooperation Network (comprising the Administrative Assistance and Cooperation network and the Agri-Food Fraud Network) reflects the growing attention of Member States in the fight against illegal trafficking of dogs and cats. Furthermore, a number of new provisions are included in the new Animal Health Law to improve the registration and traceability of cats and dogs.

New EU coordinated action is currently under consideration to strengthen the controls regarding suspicious operators. Building on the coordinated plan from 2019, this action would help national authorities gain insight on the online market of pets and imports into the EU. It would reinforce collaboration between different services such as the Agri-Food Fraud Network, e-commerce experts and customs authorities.

In December 2020, the European Commission proposed a new Digital Services Act (‘DSA’), which contains a horizontal set of rules to regulate the responsibilities of digital services that act as intermediaries in their role of connecting consumers with content, including goods and services. The DSA sets out effective means for all online actors to counter illegal content, as defined by national or Union law. To the extent that information related to trade or advertisement of pets is illegal, as defined by Union law or national law that is consistent with Union law, this will be covered by the obligations enshrined in the DSA, in particular those relating to online platforms.