Rearing pigs with intact tails in the EU: progress remains slow, but Commission increases pressure on member states

Photo credits: © Dyrevernalliansen

The first meeting at DG SANTE of the pig welfare sub-group of the European Platform on Animal Welfare took place on 26 November in GRANGE (Directorate F). The meeting was followed on 27-28 November by a full program of updates and workshops, involving Member States and invited stakeholders, dedicated to the Action Plan to improve enforcement of the Pig Directive, especially the ban on routine tail docking.

The European Commission appears much more determined than in the past to obtain enforcement of the Pig Directive from member states on the ban on routine tail docking of pigs and the provision of adequate conditions and environmental enrichments on farm. On 26 November the pig welfare sub-group of stakeholders from the EU Platform on Animal Welfare (EU PAW) convened for the first time in Grange (Ireland, Directorate F) to start working on this issue. On 27-28 November, the Commission also convened member states and relevant stakeholders for an update on the Action Plan 2017-19 to improve enforcement of the Pig Directive.

The three days included workshops in small groups, presentations from stakeholders (including several NGOs among which World Animal Protection, Compassion in World Farming, RSPCA, and Eurogroup for Animals), and updates from the European Commission on the progress of their Action Plan 2017-19 to improve enforcement of the Pig Directive. Several representatives of the first European Reference Centre for Animal Welfare, dedicated to pigs and coordinated by Dr Hans Spoolder (Wageningen UR), also attended the meetings and received valuable indications from stakeholders on the work plan of the reference centre for next year.

On 28 November Dr. Elena Nalon from Eurogroup for Animals gave a joint presentation with Peter Stevenson (Compassion in World Farming). Eurogroup for Animals’ presentation was centred on the expectations of EU citizens concerning pig welfare as clearly shown by the success of End Pig Pain, and on the instruments offered by the Common Agricultural Policy to discourage bad practices while also promoting better pig welfare under both Pillars I and II.  Compassion in World Farming UK gave examples of farms located in various countries where progress is ongoing also thanks to close collaborations with the local NGOs. Annamaria Pisapia (Compassion in World Farming Italy) gave a joint presentation with Dr. Domenico Castelluccio from the Italian Competent Authorities, showing the timid progress so far, and the Italian plan to begin enforcing the ban on routine tail docking, thanks to adaptations in the management of heavy pigs used for cured ham production.

In early 2018 the Commission asked all member states to draft national action plans based on animal welfare legislation (general Farming Directive and Pig Directive) to improve pig welfare on farm and avoid routine tail docking. These action plans should be detailed enough to enable the competent authorities to verify if farmers have taken all measures foreseen by legislation before resorting to tail docking their pigs. Therefore, action plans should provide practical and detailed indications for controllers. All in all, progress is still perceived as being slow. The Commission is currently assessing the revised action plans provided by member states, but the preliminary evaluation was mixed, with only some programs sufficiently detailed, most programmes lacking detail. Two member states did not provide action plans at all.

Infringement procedures may be on the horizon if all else fails at the end of this 2017-19 action plan, but meanwhile we will continue following and supporting the work of Directorate F and working constructively within the EU Platform sub-group on pig welfare.

The meetings of 27-28 November were webcast.  If you have missed it, you can view recordings here .

CONTACTS:

Dr Elena Nalon, Veterinary Adviser, Eurogroup for Animals
e.nalon@eurogroupforanimals.org  | + 32 02 740 0897

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