Find below the second issue of Animal Law Europe's newsletter, which covers April – June 2021.
Welcome to our second quarterly newsletter!
This is a free newsletter, and we hope to keep it that way. You can support this project by forwarding it, shouting about it, and giving credit to Animal Law Europe whenever possible!
- Research Brief
This quarter’s research note is about the labeling of animal source food in the EU. In 2020, the European Commission announced the creation of an “EU animal welfare label” as part of the EU Green Deal. This research note explores the different regulatory pathways possible in EU law for the creation of such a label.
- Coming Up!
I am slated to give a series of talks in September and October, including at the Canadian and U.S. Animal Law Conferences.
Make sure to check the news section of Animal Law Europe’s website if you’d like to be updated on upcoming talks, interviews, publication, etc.
- Special news
We are immensely grateful to Animal Charity evaluators for selecting us as a grantee of the 2021 ACE Movement Grant, alongside organizations who do such great work for animals. This grant will allow us to conduct a comprehensive legal analysis of EU Farm Animal Welfare legislation, ahead of the 2023 revision. Animal Law Europe will also organize an event in Brussels, Belgium to present the report.
1. Animal Law News
1.1. In the European Union
- Regulation 853/2004 on specific hygiene requirements for food of animal origin (“Hygiene Regulation”) was amended through a Delegated Act adopted on April 12 to allow the on-farm slaughter of animals.
- Regulation (EU) 2016/429 on transmissible animal diseases (“Animal Health Law”) entered into force on April 21.
This new legislation aims at improving the enforcement of EU animal health regulations. The new “Animal Health Law” consolidates a significant number of legal acts into a single one, and sets standards through delegated acts (decrees). An important aspect of this regulation is that it might provide the blueprint for the upcoming animal welfare legislation, which currently has many of the same shortcomings as the animal health legislation before its revision – fragmented, out-of-date standards, few enforcement mechanisms. The EU executive might consolidate current directives and regulations on animal welfare into a single act, and regulate standards by way of delegated acts. In that respect, the extent to which the new Animal Health Law will improve standards and enforcement will be an important factor in influencing the reform of EU animal welfare legislation.
The European Court of Justice dismissed the action brought by the Netherlands against the ban on fishing by vessels using electric pulse trawls. In 2019, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU adopted new rules on the conservation of fish and the protection of marine ecosystems, which banned non-selective fishing methods, including the use of electric pulse trawl by June 30, 2021. In 2019, the Netherlands challenged the new rule before the European Court of Justice on the grounds that the EU Legislature failed to base its decision on best scientific opinion.
The Court dismissed the Netherlands’ action for annulment, ruling that “the EU legislature has a wide discretion in this field and is not obliged to base its legislative choice on scientific and technical opinions only.”
- Formal notice Art. 258 TFE
– Wildlife (conservation): Infringement number: INFR(2021)2068
Slovenia received a letter of formal notice to comply with its obligations under the Birds Directive (Directive 2009/147/EC) to classify all the necessary special protection areas (SPA) for the “Mediterranean Shag.”
– Wildlife (conservation): Infringement number: INFR(2021)2016
Italy received a letter of formal notice to comply with its obligations under the Habitats Directive (Directive 2009/147/EC) and under the Birds Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC). The Commission asks Italy to ensure adequate protection for habitats and species, especially marine and seabird species, in Natura 2000 areas.
– Biodiversity (invasive alien species)
The European Commission sent a formal notice to 18 Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia) asking them to comply with several provisions in Regulation 1143/2014 on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species.
Specifically, all 18 Member States have failed to establish, implement and communicate to the Commission an action plan to address the most important pathways of unintentional introduction and spread of invasive alien species of concern for the EU. Additionally, Bulgaria, Greece and Romania have failed to establish a surveillance system of invasive alien species of concern for the EU, or include it in their existing system. Greece and Romania have failed to put in place fully functioning structures to carry out the official controls necessary to prevent the intentional introduction of species of concern into the EU. Portugal failed to transmit an implementation report.
– Fish (by-catch): Infringement number: INFR(2021)4000
The European Commission sent a letter of formal notice to France for failure to comply with the Regulation 1224/2009 which mandates the establishment of a Community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the common fisheries policy.The Commission also found France to be noncompliant with Regulation 1005/2008 on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU Regulation). Specifically, in the Commission’s view, France has failed to ensure effective monitoring and control of its external fleet and of the enforcement of rules on the catch reporting, in addition to failing to carry out checks on fishing activities of vessels, all of which may result in overfishing.
- Reasoned Opinion
– Wildlife (conservation): Infringement number: INFR(2020)2346
The European Commission sent a reasoned opinion to ask Malta to comply with its obligation under the Birds Directive (Directive 2009/147/EC) and to comply with the European Court of Justice’s ruling banning finch trapping. Particularly, the European Commission asks Malta to strike the exemption to the ban on finch trapping for research purposes.
More on infringement procedures:
Infringement decisions occur when the EU executive “pursues legal action against Member States for failing to comply with their obligations under EU law.” In everyday parlance, this means that the European Commission intervenes by notifying an EU country in cases where that country has failed to properly enact an EU law into national law, or failed to implement such a law. It is one of the rare mechanisms allowing the EU to enforce its own law, a duty that is usually delegated to Member States.
There are three levels of intervention, from a simple notification, to full-on legal action before the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
Find here a Twitter thread explaining infringement procedures and the European Commission Q&A Memo on Infringement procedures.
– Farmed animals for fur and fiber purposes: Communication on the EU Strategy for Sustainable Textiles (deadline: August 4)
- Legislative Act
– Farm animals (cattle) / Trade : Proposal for a Regulation on the Union tariff rate quota for High Quality Beef from Paraguay (deadline: August 14)
– Farm animals / Labeling: Proposal for a Directive on the EU Marketing Standards for Agricultural Products (deadline: August 31)
Make sure to check Animal Law Europe’s Guide to Public Consultations to find out what public consultations are and how to use them to advance the interests of animals in EU law.
- Estonia – Fur Farming
Estonia banned the farming of racoons and minks, becoming the first Baltic country to prohibit fur farming. The Estonian Parliament adopted a bill amending the Animal Protection Act and the Nature Conservation Act to prohibit “the keeping, breeding and reproduction of animals solely or principally for the purpose of fur production.” The law places a moratorium on the opening of new fur farms, which will come into force as soon as July 2021. The law further provides a 5-year transition period for the prohibition on the breeding and farming of fur animals. All fur farms in Estonia will have to shut down by January 2026.
- Italy – Private ownership of exotic animals
Following the entry into force of the Animal Health Law (see point 188.8.131.52 above), the Italian senate adopted a law banning the import and private ownership of wild and exotic animals on April 20, 2021. The ban will enter into force by May 8, 2022.
- Germany – Farm animals (egg-laying hens)
Germany passed a ban on the grinding of male chicks to enter into force in 2022. The Bundestag (the German Parliament) approved a law on May 21, 2021 amending the Animal protection Act. This decision follows a 2019 decision by the Federal Supreme Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht), which ruled that the killing of male chicks was contrary to the constitutional objective of animal protection (Article 20a of the German Basic Law) where alternative to such killing, such as in ovo sexing, existed.
- The Netherlands – Companion and farm animals
The Dutch Senate approved an amendment to the Animal Act requiring that companion animals and farmed animals must be provided “living conditions that resemble their natural environment” by granting animals more space by 2023. The amendment further states that “keeping animals in a certain farming system” may no longer be a “reasonable purpose” for harming them. The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture is currently conducting an impact assessment in preparation for the drafting of the decree.
- Spain – Companion animals (dogs)
Spain is on the brink of amending its breed-specific legislation. The amendment would regulate ownership based on individual canine behavior and no longer discriminate against entire breeds. The new law would also include new rules on training breeders.
- Norway – Farmed animals
Norway considers excluding cruel industries from the nationally-owned Norwegian investment portfolio. The Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs of the Norwegian Parliament reviewed the The Norwegian Oil Fund’s ethical commitments and recognized violations of animal welfare as potential “serious violations of fundamental ethical norms.” The Norwegian Parliament is thus considering excluding companies that do not comply with EU animal welfare legislation, the OIE, and ISO standards from the Norwegian Oil Fund. The Norwegian Oil Fund fund is said to be one of the world’s largest shareholders in factory farming.
- Italy – Constitutional Reform recognizing animal protection as a constitutional objective
The Italian Senate approved a draft constitutional bill that would make the protection of animals and of the environment a constitutional objective. The drafting of the bill draws from Article 13 of the EU Constitutional Treaty (Treaty on the Functioning of the EU). The adoption by the Senate is the first step towards the adoption of the text, which will have to be adopted, a year from now, by the lower legislative chamber.
- The Netherlands – Wildlife conservation
The Council of State, the highest administrative Court in the Netherlands, ruled against the province of South Holland, who appealed a decision denying a permit to shoot thousands of wigeons. In its ruling, the Court concludes that the administration of the South Province failed to state the reasons justifying the mass shooting and that the culling might deteriorate the conservation status of the species, which would contravene EU law (Birds Directives).
- The Netherlands – Farm animals (broiler chickens): On April 29th, the Administrative Appellate Court (Dutch Trade and Industry section) ruled against the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) for failure to enforce animal welfare regulations regarding the catching and handling of broiler chickens.
- France – Wildlife conservation
The French Council of State, the highest administrative court, ruled that the use of glue trap for the purpose of capturing birds in certain regions of France was illegal, on the basis of the Birds Directive. This ruling follows a preliminary ruling handed down by the European Court of Justice earlier this year.
- Poland – farmed animals (fish)
On June 29th, the District Court of Warsaw ruled against fish retailers that for selling live carp fish without water in supermarkets, and handing them to consumers in plastic bags.
- Canada Restricts Animal Testing
On April 14, the federal government proposed an amendment to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The amendment includes the recognition of the necessity to reduce reliance on animal testing and encourages the promotion of alternatives to animal testing.
- Israel bans the sale of fur for fashion purposes, becoming the first country to do so. The Israeli government signed an amendment to the Animal Act (הצעת חוק צער בעלי חיים (הגנה על בעלי חיים) on June 9, 2021 prohibiting the sale of fur for fashion purposes. The ban will come into force in November 2021. The use of fur will remain permitted for research, teaching, and for religious purposes – such as for the use of fur to make Schtreimel hats. Israel had already banned fur farming in 1976.
- New Zealand Bans of the Export of Live Animals
On April 14, the Ministry of Agriculture announced a ban on the export of live animals by sea to enter into force in 2023. The announcement followed a review of the practice of transporting live animals.
- The United Kingdom (UK) Passes “Animal Sentience” Bill
The UK government introduced a bill that recognizes vertebrate animals as sentient beings in domestic law and establishes an Animal Sentience Committee (ASC) composed of experts whose mission is to ensure that the government policy considers animal sentience. If the bill passes, any new legislation will have to take into account the fact that animals can experience feelings such as pain or joy. The bill further provides that the Government Ministers update parliament on recommendations made by the Animal Sentience Committee. More information on the bill here.
- The United States of America (USA)
– The State of Hawaii and Maine ban animal testing for cosmetics. The Hawaii Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act [HCFCA] passed its final vote in the state’s legislature and will become law after Governor David Ige signs the bill. The act will prevent any animals from experimental trials for beauty products and further bans the sale of new products tested on animals starting on January 1, 2022.
– The State of Nevada bans cages for egg-laying hens: On June 8, 2021 Governor Steve Sisolak signed a bill into law banning the sale of eggs coming from hens in cages as well as banning the cage confinement of egg-laying hens in the state.
– New York State Court Ruling Agrees to hear the Habeas Corpus case of an Animal
For the first time in history, a Court (the New York Court of Appeals) agreed to hear the habeas corpus case of an animal – Happy, an elephant kept in captivity at the Bronx Zoo for over four decades. The Nonhuman Rights Project seeks recognition of Happy’s fundamental right to bodily liberty as well as his transfer to an elephant sanctuary. This is the first time in history that the highest court of any English-speaking jurisdiction will hear a habeas corpus case brought on behalf of someone other than a human being.
2.1. Law & Policy
The European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions and the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development held a joint hearing on the European Citizens’ Initiative “End the Cage Age,” spearheaded by Compassion in World Farming (Olga Kikou), and which gathered 1.4 million signatures petitioning the E.U. to ban the use of cages in animal agriculture.
The European parliament held a workshop on the transport of live animals which was organised by the Policy Department and the ANIT Committee Secretariat. It included four presentations dealing with the “particular welfare needs in the transport of unweaned animals and pregnant females,” “the animal welfare on sea vessels,” “the welfare in the transport of aquatic animals,” and finally “the welfare during the transport in third countries.” The digest of this workshop can be found by clicking on the link below.
- Erica Lyman, Clinical Professor and Director of the Global Law Alliance for Animals and the Environment, and Senior Staff Attorney Nick Fromherz, proposed an on-demand Continuing Legal Education (CLE) on Structural Legal Collaboration to Combat Wildlife Trafficking. In this CLE, they measure the Lacey Act’s potential to serve as a model national approach in the global fight against wildlife trafficking.
2.3. Education and Career Advancement
- The Åbo Akademi (Turku, Finland), in partnership with Open University, is starting a new on-line program in Animal Law open to non-lawyers. The program consists of nine courses (45 ECTS).
- Registrations are still open for Lewis & Clark Law School’s Center for Animal Law Studies Summer Program.
- Michigan State University is seeking an Animal Law Fellow to work at the College of Law. The Animal Law Fellow will research and write articles, be a guest lecturer, as well as serving as a guide and mentor for MSU law students. The required degree for this job is a doctorate.
- Vermont Law School (USA) has created an Animal Law Program, which will be directed by Prof. Delcianna Winders.
- Birmingham City University School of Law (UK) will offer a course on animals in environmental law taught by Prof. Iyan Offor.
- The Sciences Po Undergraduate College (France) will open its first Animal Ethics course, open to students in the Bachelor of Science and Arts, co-taught by Alice Di Concetto and Prof. Michel Tarpin.
3.1. Law & Policy
The European Commission (DG Sante) published an evaluation of the 2015 – 2020 Animal Welfare Strategy, which concludes that the Strategy did not meet its objectives.
The European Parliament Research Services published a report on EU farm animal welfare legislation and animal source food labeling. This report will inform the “animal welfare on the farm” report by the European Parliament’s AGRI Committee. The report concludes that EU FAWL has had little effect on improving farmed animal welfare, and further underlines the general consensus in the public institutions and the industry for the implementation of a voluntary EU animal welfare label.
The European Court of Auditors published a special report on greening on the “Common Agricultural Policy and Climate.” The report concludes that even though animal agriculture is responsible for “around half of emissions from agriculture,” “the CAP does not seek to limit livestock numbers; nor does it provide incentives to reduce them. The CAP market measures include promotion of animal products, the consumption of which has not decreased since 2014.”
The International Association of Lawyers (UIA) published a special issue of its magazine, Juriste International, on animal law. The issue includes articles in English, Spanish, and French.
- March 2021 Special Issue of Scandinavian Studies in Law: “Animal Law and Animal Rights”
- Eva Bernet Kempers, Neither Persons nor Things: The Changing Status of Animals in Private Law, the European Review of Private Law
- Debbie Legge and Annaig Nicol, “Ecocide and Animals: extracting a framework for discussion from the work of Polly Higgins, Damien Short and Nigel South” Policy Brief No. 19, May 2021, Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance.
- Charlotte Blattner, Global Migration Crises, Nonhuman Animals, and the Role of Law in Like an Animal: Critical Animal Studies Approaches to Borders, Displacement, and Othering, Natalie Khazaal and Núria Almiron (eds.) (2021).
- Our Hen House’s Animal Law Podcast with Mariann Sullivan: check out the new episodes.
- 80 000 Hour Podcast with Rob Wiblin: Leah Garcés, the President of Mercy for Animals, on turning adversaries into allies to change the chicken industry.
5. Calls for Contributions
Global Journal of Animal Law
The Global journal of Animal Law is seeking abstracts for its Special Issue: “International Law and Animal Health and Protection: Persistent Themes, News Prospects for Change.” Deadline: August 1.
The Coloquios de Derecho Animal is accepting applications from researchers, professionals, and students. Deadline: July 3.
Coloquios de Derecho Animal
The Coloquios de Derecho Animal is accepting applications from researchers, professionals, and students. Deadline: July 3.