February 6, 2018
In 1997 the UK Government, under its Presidency, convinced the other 14 Member States that the European Treaty needed to recognise that animals were sentient beings not agricultural goods. Britain claimed that animals, like us, have feelings and emotions and have the same capacity to feel joy, as well as pain and suffering. This protocol, which came into place in 1999, changed the way in which animals were regarded. It ensured that future European legislation took animal sentience into account; and was not implemented on the basis of the lowest standard of animal welfare. Since this historic moment, over 20 pieces of European legislation on animal welfare have been adopted, including the ban on seal skin imports due to cruelty in the killing of these animals, the ban on the conventional battery cage and the ban on cosmetics testing on animals.
Article 13 is therefore an important ethical as well as practical statement, that the UK Government (as the original proposer of this idea at EU level) needs to ensure is part of the Brexit process.
The RSPCA is pleased the Government has committed to ensure consideration of the welfare of animals is made throughout its policy decisions. However we believe further work is needed to ensure an effective way forward can be found. Please read our briefing for further information.