Documents considered by the Committee on 9 May 2018 Contents

8Animal welfare and international competitiveness

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

Cleared from scrutiny; drawn to the attention of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Document details

Report from the Commission: On the impact of animal welfare international activities on the competitiveness of European livestock producers in a globalized world

Legal base

Department

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Document Number

(39483), 5787/18 + ADD 1, COM(18) 42

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

8.1The Commission’s Report concluded that the EU ‘s international efforts to communicate EU and global animal welfare standards over the period 2004–15 were effective in improving awareness of European and global animal welfare standards with particular success in welfare at slaughter, although not so much progress had been achieved on welfare in transport and on farm. Further information was set out in our Report of 18 April.

8.2We raised a number of queries to which the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity (Lord Gardiner of Kimble) has responded. He emphasises that World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules allow WTO members to adopt measures necessary to protect public morals, which could include the moral value that the UK places on animal welfare. Any such measure would need to be based on evidence that it addresses a moral concern of the UK public and is necessary to protect public morals.

8.3The Minister notes that the Commission has successfully used a range of methods to influence the raising of welfare standards internationally. Looking forward, animal welfare is a UK priority for international engagement and trade policy and the Government is committed to being a world leader in this area, acting by example and seeking to influence the raising of standards globally.

8.4We are grateful for the Minister’s response and will monitor developments in this area with interest. We require no further correspondence on this document, which we clear from scrutiny. We draw this chapter to the attention of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.

Full details of the documents

Report from the Commission: On the impact of animal welfare international activities on the competitiveness of European livestock producers in a globalized world: (39483), 5787/18 + ADD 1, COM(18) 42.

Background

8.5Following consideration of the document and the Minister’s Explanatory Memorandum of 22 February at our meeting of 18 April, we requested the following information from the Minister:

The Minister’s letter of 27 April 2018

8.6On the question of making imports conditional on compliance with animal welfare standards, the Minister observes that the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade provides WTO members with the ability to adopt measures necessary to protect public morals. These could, he says, include the moral value that the UK public places on animal welfare. Any such measures must not be applied in a manner which would constitute arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between countries, or as a disguised restriction on international trade. The Minister notes that the measure must be based on robust evidence that it addresses a moral concern of the UK public and is necessary to protect public morals.

8.7Turning to the Commission’s strategy and the future UK approach, the Minister says:

“The EU Commission has used a range of methods to influence the raising of welfare standards internationally, including supporting the development and adoption of international standards, bringing animal welfare into the scope of collaborative frameworks under free trade agreements, and promoting scientific research and awareness raising. These methods are helping to raise the profile of animal welfare internationally, and are helping to ensure it is a key consideration in facilitating trade in animals and animal products.

“Animal welfare is a priority for international engagement and trade policy as we leave the EU and the Government is committed to being a world leader in this area, acting by example and influencing the raising of standards globally through the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and through bilateral discussions and agreements.”

Previous Committee Reports

Twenty-fourth Report HC 301–xxiii (2017–19), chapter 4 (18 April 2018).





Published: 15 May 2018