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Legislation and enforcement

In Northern European countries, greater emphasis has traditionally been played on animal welfare legislation than in the Southern European countries. In recent years the EU has developed minimum standards for animal welfare to be enforced in all European countries. The European Commission adopts new legislation based on scientific reports from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

However, in accordance with the general rules covering minimum standards for the protection of pigs, member states may maintain or apply within their territories stricter provisions for the protection of pigs than those laid down in the relevant Directive. Day-to-day enforcement of Community legislation is the responsibility of Member States. Any event suspected to be a breach of Community legislation should in the first instance be communicated to the competent authority of the Member State concerned. If it appears that a competent authority of a Member State fails to apply Community rules, the Commission may consider opening an infringement procedure against the Member State concerned.

The Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) works to assure effective control systems and to evaluate compliance with EU standards within the EU, and in third countries in relation to their exports to the EU. The FVO does this mainly by carrying out inspections in Member States and in third countries exporting to the EU.

To date, the USA. has no animal welfare regulations covering farm animals, although most states have statutes relating to cruelty of animals. In the USA there is stronger emphasis on individualism and the profit motive of livestock enterprises.

Link to the European animal welfare legislation