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Animal Welfare and Sentience in European Union Policy

The European Union (EU) has been supporting animal welfare for over 40 years. It now has an Animal Welfare Strategy, and an impressive record of animal welfare achievements, including a raft of animal welfare legislation which has evolved on the basis of scientific knowledge, improving the quality of animals' lives in accordance with European citizens' expectations and market demands.

The EU also amended its Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) to include the recognition that animals are sentient beings. This amendment, made through the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, stated that:

"In formulating and implementing the Union's agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development and space policies, the Union and the Member States shall, since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals, while respecting the legislative or administrative provisions and customs of the Member States relating in particular to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage."

WAN is a member of the Eurogroup for Animals, which is the leading organisation working at EU level to represent animal welfare interests.

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