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"Primary responsibility lies with Member States and their enforcement agencies must take the necessary action to live up to their obligations in EU legislation", warned David Byrne. Current EU legislation covers the protection of animals during transport and at the time of slaughter, as well as welfare standards for the keeping of laying hens, calves and pigs.--The European Commission is committed to the obligations resulting from the Protocol for Animal Welfare that was annexed to the Final Act of the Treaty on European Union, requesting that the European institutions pay full regard to animal welfare in drafting and implementing EU legislation. In its White Paper on Food Safety, the Commission acknowledges that animal welfare questions need to be more fully integrated into food policy. The Paper also provides for animal welfare issues to be covered by the European Food Safety Authority.--Improved transport conditions.Mr Byrne outlined to the European Parliament Intergroup several initiatives he would be taking with regard to animal welfare. He will be proposing a Council Directive on standards for the transport of livestock by certain sea-going vessels. "I intend that it should address issues such as better standards for loading, unloading, penning and care of animals on vessels, including conditions for the approval of these ships", declared the Commissioner. He promised to submit proposals to the Standing Veterinary Committee (SVP) by the middle of this year on standards for the mechanical ventilation of vehicles transporting livestock. These would be based on the recently-adopted Opinion of the Scientific Committee on Animal Welfare. The Commission has proposed amendments to Directive 91/628/EEC on the unloading of pigs at staging points in relation to possible exposure to infections. "We are also considering whether we need similar standards for the transport of breeding cattle", added Mr Byrne.On-farm animal welfare.The Commission intends to table enhanced measures later this year for on-farm animal welfare, including provisions for keeping sows in groups to ensure their social behaviour patterns. "Our Scientific Committee on Animal Welfare has begun to prepare a report on the welfare aspects of fur farming, which I expect to receive by the year's end. Furthermore, I also expect a report on the welfare of animal kept for fattening", explained Mr Byrne. The Commission will shortly be producing a report on the experience gained by each...

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