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Andrea Gavinelli, Directorate General for Health and Consumers, EU Commission: Summary.
Animal Welfare is being accorded an increasingly important role in today's civil society. There is a growing expectation from consumers worldwide for animals used in food production to be well treated. Science has also more clearly defined the link of animal welfare with the increase of efficiency in production, animal health, securing sustainability, and ethical concerns.
The results of several social investigations and market analysis carried on in the European Union confirm that the farming of animals is no longer viewed by European consumers simply as a means of food production. Instead it is seen as fundamental to other key social goals such as food safety and quality, safeguarding environmental protection, sustainability, enhancing the quality of life in rural areas while ensuring that animals are properly treated.
While in the past animal welfare policy was often driven public concerns about specific topics the Commission adopted in 2006 a more comprehensive strategy for this policy area.
The first Community Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2006-2010 takes into account all the concerns as well as the globalisation of animal production. It defines the direction of the Community policies and the related activities for the coming years to continue to promote high animal welfare standards in the EU and internationally considering animal welfare as business opportunities while respecting the ethical and cultural dimension of the issue. A major effort is ongoing today to simplify the legislative framework and to reshape it in order to obtain in the future a more powerful tool to support European farm business.
The scientific study of animal welfare is a relatively young discipline and has developed over the last three decades and continues to expand to meet new challenges and new possibilities.
The scientific knowledge could play an important role facilitating the ethical and political decisions about animal care.
The vision is to integrate the farming of animals in good health and welfare conditions with the respect of several other issues such as the safety of the products and the respect for the environment: this integrated approach will bring a real benefit for the global society.
The overall aim of the European Commission's initiative is to initiate a broad public debate on animal welfare which will allow shaping a coherent and widely accepted policy.