Leg. Dev.: Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes

5 Colum. J. Eur. L. 497 (1999)

Wendy D. Witten.

On July 20, 1998, the Council adopted Council Directive 98/58/EC concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes. The Directive was adopted with reference to Article 43 of the European Community Treaty, the European Convention for the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes (“the Convention”), and proposals and opinions by the Commission, the European Parliament, and the Economic and Social Committees (Recitals 1-5). The Directive sets out minimum standards specifically for the protection of animals bred or kept for farming purposes. It does not apply to animals used for other purposes, such as racing, competition, sports, or scientific experiments (Article 1(2)); nor does it apply to wild animals or any type of invertebrate (Article 1(2)). For the purposes of this measure, “farming purposes” include the production of food, wool, skin or fur, and any other uses that may be considered “farming.” (Article 2(1)).

The Directive was adopted for two principal reasons. The first is, of course, the protection of animals from inhumane treatment. The second is a concern for proper organization in the market in animals, so that competition is not adversely affected (Recitals 10-11). These two aims have been the motivating factors in European Community legislation on farm animal welfare since the first such law was passed in 1974. The preamble to the 1974 directive, concerning the stunning of animals before slaughter, listed as its fundamental concerns “that disparities in national legislation in the field of protection of animals affect directly the functioning of the common market” and “that the Community should take action to avoid in general all forms of cruelty to animals.” It is the balance of these two objectives that contributed to the formation of the 1978 Convention and, eventually, the present Directive.