EU official: Imposing animal welfare standards on imports would be WTO compliant

It would be wise to impose the equivalent standards of animal welfare on meat imports coming into the EU, according to a top EU official, who said this would be compliant with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, provided it was based on “ethical grounds”.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, highlighted that there is a “very strong desire” from the public and farmers for such a move.

His comments come on the back of an increasing focus on animal welfare in the EU, which features as a key theme of the EU’s flagship food policy, the Farm to Fork strategy.

As part of a drive to improve animal welfare standards, the strategy sets out a plan for the Commission to revise the animal welfare legislation to align it with the latest scientific evidence, broaden its scope, make it easier to enforce and ultimately ensure a higher level of animal welfare.

Plans for an EU-wide animal welfare labelling scheme are also well underway after EU agricultural ministers gave their backing to the plans in December last year.

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