Animal Welfare is a policy field that does not sit with one Commission department only. Ultimate responsibility for this field should now sit with Frans Timmermans as Executive Vice President for a European Green Deal.

Commission President-elect von der Leyen has today unveiled her proposed new team that will take office on 1 November. Whilst some questions remain, Eurogroup for Animals welcomes the role that will be played by Executive Vice President-designate, Frans Timmermans, who will oversee Agriculture, Health and the Environment and Oceans, amongst others.

Not only have the past few years overwhelmingly demonstrated that animal welfare is a priority for European citizens, surveys and questionnaires have also shown that they expect more actions on this from the EU-level.

Now, under the incoming von der Leyen Commission, we have the opportunity to see new initiatives with a truly joined-up approach. In short, the responsibility for animal welfare should now ultimately reside with Frans Timmermans.

Commenting today, the Director of Eurogroup for Animals, Reineke Hameleers, said:

“The proposed European Commission of President-elect von der Leyen is, at first sight, encouraging. It is wonderful to see Janusz Wojciechowski – a long standing animal welfare proponent, and the ex-President of the Parliamentary Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals –  nominated as the Commissioner-designate for Agriculture.

“We are also encouraged by the title of the new Commissioner-designate for Environment and Oceans, whose name at least reflects a recognition that the sea is not a resource to simply be used, but is something that needs environmental stewardship.

“Whilst some questions remain, the new structure should, at first sight, be welcomed. Animal welfare is touched by so many policies that the Commission pursues, whether through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the Common Fisheries Policy, habitat protection, chemicals legislation or laws to stop the spread of transmissible diseases, that it is high time we saw these policy areas better tied together under the new Green deal portfolio .

“Vice President Timmermans openly declared his support for doing more for animal welfare during the European Elections, and showed how willing he would be to engage with civil society. Furthermore, the climate and animal welfare are intrinsically bound up with one another. Ten percent of Europe’s greenhouse emissions come from agriculture, and the rise in temperatures globally is a huge challenge for biodiversity and the loss of habitats.

“Furthermore, we take heart from the central importance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in all letters to the new Commissioners-designate too, as animal welfare is directly related to the achievement of many of these. Vice President Timmermans is now in the perfect role to truly ensure that new actions are taken forward to enhance the welfare of animals, in line with citizens’ wishes, in a joined up coordinated manner, across several Commission departments.

“Of course, if we want to really change things for animals, we also need to promote and reinforce animal welfare through international trade. In this regard, Eurogroup for Animals welcomes Phil Hogan as the new Commissioner-designate for this key portfolio. As Agriculture Commissioner, he often mentioned animal welfare, and secured it as a priority as part of the new CAP proposals. Now he has the opportunity to build upon the work of his predecessor, Cecilia Malmström, who has made such progress in this area.”

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