Since adopting legislation on farm animal welfare in 1974, the EU has taken an active approach to many different aspects of animal law. The information below is focused on welfare issues of companion animals, farm animals and animals used in research; excluded are legal materials which focus on conservation and preservation. For more information on locating materials on those topics, try our International Environmental Law Research Guide; for more general guidance on researching EU law, see our European Union Research guide.
In November 2009, an independent external evaluation of the current EU policy on Animal Welfare was created; see the legislation and the Commission Decision of 7 May 2021 amending Decision 2017/C 31/12 establishing the Commission Expert Group “Platform on Animal Welfare.”
A variety of Council of Europe and European Union treaties govern the protection of animals in transport, farming and experimentation. (Note that the Council of Europe and European Union are separate and distinct entities.)
Council of Europe
An excellent source to check for current issues and proposed EU legislation on animal law is the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety website—the Animal welfare page provides a starting point for identifying the agencies responsible for various types of legislation and enforcement. The site also includes public opinion surveys and policy objectives.
To find more EU legislation on animal protection, conduct a search on EUR-Lex. EUR-Lex is the top online source for researching existing EU legislation, while the Legislative Observatory and Pre-Lex are two places to search for proposed law. See our research guide on the EU for more detailed information.
Below are some of the key EU directives and decisions on animal welfare and animal experimentation. Be sure to update your research!