Eurogroup For Animals | 20 July 2021
The EU sets precedent with the first animal welfare-based condition in a trade agreement
The documents published by the European Commission on 15 July 2021 confirm that, for the first time, the EU set an animal welfare-based condition in a trade agreement: EU-related standards must be applied to preferential imports of shelled eggs from Mercosur. Yet, while this is a significant precedent in trade policy, it is not sufficient to save the EU-Mercosur agreement as it stands.
On 15 July 2021, the European Commission published the market access provisions agreed in its unprecedented free trade agreement (FTA) with Mercosur. The texts confirm the first animal welfare-based condition in a trade agreement, in relation with the trade in shelled eggs. This means that to benefit from the duty-free access to the EU market, Mercosur egg producers will have to certify they respect EU-equivalent rules for laying hen welfare.
“ Eurogroup for Animals welcomes this significant precedent in EU trade policy. Yet, the published schedules also clarified that the EU will not impose similar measures to other animal products, which means that it will grant more market access to most animal products from the Mercosur, without any conditions related to animal welfare or sustainability.”
Stephanie Ghislain, Trade & Animal Welfare Programme Leader, Eurogroup for Animals
This will further fuel the intensification of animal farming in Mercosur countries, especially in the beef and chicken meat sectors, and this intensification, in addition to be detrimental to animals, also fuels global challenges we are facing today such as antimicrobial resistance, the spread of zoonoses, biodiversity loss, and climate change.
The cooperation mechanisms included in the agreement at the moment - on animal welfare and Trade and Sustainable Development - are too weak to mitigate this negative impact. Overall, the deal remains thus a bad one for animals, people and the planet.
“ The agreement must be renegotiated in order to integrate strong and enforceable provisions on animal welfare. Concerns raised by the civil society, the European Parliament and various Member States cannot be solved by simply adding a protocol to the agreement.”
In that context, Eurogroup for Animals calls on the EU to uphold the objectives of the Farm to Fork Strategy, and to either negotiate the adoption by Mercosur countries of EU-equivalent animal welfare standards in key sectors (cattle, broiler chickens), as well as in terms of transport, or to extend the approach they applied to the trade in shelled eggs, and to agree on animal welfare and sustainability-based conditions required to access tariff-rate quotas or liberalisation in animal products, including the respect of EU-equivalent animal welfare standards.