Animal Welfare

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 24th February 2005.

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Photo of David Drew David Drew Labour/Co-operative, Stroud

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

(1) whether the United Kingdom will seek to ensure that it remains mandatory for member states to support measures to improve animal welfare standards in negotiations in Council on the European Commission proposal for a Council Regulation on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (COM(2004) 490); and if she will make a statement;

(2) whether her Department is representing the (a) Scottish Executive and (b) Welsh Assembly in negotiations in Council on the European Commission proposal for a Council Regulation on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (COM(2004) 490);

(3) how many officials from the Animal Welfare Division of her Department have been involved in the discussions with representatives of the European Commission and other member states about the European Commission proposal for a Council Regulation on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (COM(2004) 490).

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The negotiations on the rural development regulation are continuing and throughout discussions the UK has been pushing for the necessary flexibility for member states to implement rural development programmes which reflect each countries priorities and circumstances and deliver the maximum public benefits. In accordance with this the UK has supported the inclusion of a measure to allow support for farmers who voluntarily meet higher animal welfare standards but have asked the Commission for clarification on their reasons for it being compulsory.

Defra officials represent the UK position in EU negotiations on the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and argue in accordance with a negotiating line agreed by Ministers. The Ministers of the devolved Administrations are fully involved in discussions regarding the formulation of the UK policy position and we benefit from the support of their officials. Devolved officials generally deal direct with the Commission on issues relating to devolved rural development programmes. Within Defra officials from across the Department, including animal welfare division, and Ministers have been fully involved in agreeing the UK negotiating line.

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