ANALYSIS – This week, the EU’s animal welfare is being debated in Brussels, writes Jackie Linden. With an overall aim towards an integrated approach to welfare, consumers are to be more empowered with their purchasing choices and enforcement of existing rules is to be strengthened. As one example of growing consumer power, more than 5,000 people in the UK have pledged their support to keeping eggs from hens in battery cages out of the UK. Also in the EU, the proposed reforms to the CAP are likely to receive strong opposition if the mood at a recent farmers’ union conference in the UK is a fair reflection of opinions in other member states. In Brussels this week, delegates to a conference have been examining the new EU animal welfare strategy, which has the aims of enhanced consumer empowerment and strengthening the enforcement of existing rules in an integrated approach to animal welfare. Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner, John Dalli, said: “Ethical issues surrounding animal welfare are becoming an integral part of food quality. Consumers are increasingly factoring in welfare considerations into their purchases. Giving consumers access to the right information so that they can make informed choices will help drive our animal welfare policies forward. Informed consumers are empowered consumers. Dedicating resources to education and training as well as strengthening enforcement will deliver both in economic and in welfare terms.”

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