“Animal welfare is a very important European issue. Animals have rights”. These were the words of European Commissioner John Dalli, Health and Consumer Policy, in his opening speech at the EPAA conference.
It is sometimes refreshing, sometimes frustrating for an academic researcher to hear a non-academic state as a fact what we may spend careers discussing, questioning and redefining. In this particular case, I’m not sure how much more we can get from discussing whether animals are the sort of beings that can have rights. (Although I couldn’t help recalling the discussion developing in Portugal two years ago when lawyer and centre-right *politician Paulo Rangel provocatively declared Animais não têm direitos – Animals don’t have rights).
But I know it’s important that a European Commissioner states that animal welfare is a very important European issue. This means that the issue is on the European agenda and that we can expect more EU activities focusing on animal welfare. This is clearly visible in the EU animal welfare policy, which Dalli highlighted.
*More specifically, Member of the European Parliament for PSD, the party once led by present European Commission president José Manuel Durão Barroso