QeA to EU Commission – Animal welfare and export of live animals to third countries

Question for written answer to the Commission – Marlene Mizzi (S&D) – 30th March 2015

Subject:  Export of live animals to countries outside Europe

When EU animals are exported live to countries outside the EU they are no longer protected by European animal welfare law. Investigations by Compassion in World Farming into slaughter in the Middle East have shown that animals are beaten and tied up and have their throats stabbed and hacked at while they are fully conscious.

Can the Commission clarify what measures have been taken to protect exported animals against abuse and cruel treatment in countries outside the EU?

Is the Commission considering taking urgent action to stop this animal trade?

Answer given by Mr Andriukaitis on behalf of the Commission – 11th June 2015

The Commission is aware of the ongoing debate on issues concerning slaughterhouses in the Middle East and is taking this matter seriously.

The Commission has brought this issue to the attention of the Chief Veterinary Officers of the Member States. Furthermore, the Commission organised the first multi-beneficiary Technical Assistance and Information Exchange (TAIEX) workshop on welfare practices at the time of slaughter in Beirut in March 2015. The workshop aimed to address the information pointing towards serious failures by slaughterhouses in meeting international OIE guidelines and standards on welfare at the time of slaughter. Experts from the EU and other countries, including from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), presented information and shared experiences in best practice for slaughter with participants from Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt and Algeria.

The Commission is not considering banning exports of live animals. However, according to a recent judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (1) in case of a long journey of animals with destination in a third country, the organiser of the journey must submit to the competent authorities of the place of departure a realistic journey log which indicates that the provisions of the EU Regulation (2) on the protection of animals during transport will be complied with, including in the stages of the journey taking place outside the EU. The Commission is currently studying the judgment to assess its practical implications.

(1) Judgment in Case C-424/13 Zuchtvieh-Export

(2) Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations; OJ L 3, 5.1.2005, p. 1.

(Source: EU Parliament website)

Unfair trading practices (UTPs) in the business-to-business food supply chain

Question for written answer to the Commission – 6th November 2014 – Alyn Smith (Verts/ALE)

Over the past month there has been a series of allegations made against the UK supermarket chain Tesco. The UK Government’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has launched an official criminal investigation into Tesco, taking over from an already existent investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Duncan Swift, who leads the Food Advisory Group at respected audit firm Moore Stephens LLP, has emphasised that ‘supermarket buyers, operating in trading rooms similar to those operated by the banks and investment companies’ have placed pressure on supply chains. If buyer bonuses are influencing the price of Tesco’s purchasing then it is clear that the size and behaviour of supermarkets is having an unfair impact on the amount farmers receive for their produce.

1. Under current EC law, is it legal for supermarkets to operate a ‘buyer bonus’ scheme as currently used by Tesco?

2. If it can be proven that such practices are having an adverse impact on the prices which producers receive, does the Commission intend to reconsider its position on Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) which, it concluded in June 2014, were an issue best left for national governments?

Answer given by Ms Bieńkowska on behalf of the Commission – 5th February 2015

In July 2013, the Commission adopted a communication Tackling unfair trading practices (UTPs) in the business-to-business food supply chain. The communication suggests a set of principles of best practice as the basis for a common understanding between Member States in terms of what does and does not constitute unfair practices. Buyer bonuses, offered by retailers to their employees, are not specifically covered by the communication and there is also no legislation at EU level that prohibits such bonuses.

The communication calls on Member States to ensure that rules against UTPs can be enforced effectively. In the specific case of the United Kingdom, an enforcement authority responsible for tackling UTPs already exists, namely the Groceries Code Adjudicator.

Over the following year, the Commission will assess whether Member States have established enforcement frameworks against UTPs and to which degree these are effective on the basis of the criteria defined in the communication. The Commission will report the findings of this assessment to the European Parliament and Council and, at that stage, decide whether further action at EU level is necessary.

(Source: European Parliament)