Animal Welfare in Europe
The private and public interest in animal protection that has emerged in Europe since
World War II may partly explain the rising tide of activism in the United States. Bernard
Rollin points out, "The Atlantic is a shrinking ocean that ideas cross with great speed."1
Most Western European countries have regulations dealing with food animal production,
laboratory animal care, animal transport, animals in zoos, animals in the wild, and pets.
Consumers have opportunities to buy meat and poultry products identified as produced
under humane conditions.
I n Europe, laws dealing with prevention of cruelty to animals date back to the nineteenth century. However, a series of events in Europe since World War II has led to formal policies that promote humane treatment of animals with laws and regulations to implement them (see the chronology listed in appendix 3).
In Europe, protection of animals is a matter of political importance. Developing animal welfare policies is a complex process that involves the Council of Europe, the Commission of the European Union (earlier called the European Community) that makes recommendations, the Council of Ministers (the Minister of Agriculture from each member country), which approves them, and the European Parliament, which makes policy recommendations. However, after directives are issued, each member country is responsible for implementing the rules and regulations.
In November 1986, the European Communities Council issued its directive for protection of animals used for "experimental and other scientific purposes."2 The directive was designed to provide guidelines for uniform laws in the member countries. The objective was to reduce use of animals for experimental purposes to a minimum, insure that they were adequately cared for, and avoid or minimize pain, suffering, distress, or harm.