Plans for an EU-wide animal welfare label for use on foods that are produced at standards higher than those in EU legislation have been backed by the European Council of agricultural ministers.

Ministers are meeting in Brussels from Tuesday to Wednesday primarily to finalise fishery quota negotiations but also to further the Council’s agenda on food labelling.

On the back of Tuesday’s agreement, the European Commission has been invited to submit a proposal for an EU-wide animal welfare label.

Ministers stressed the need for it to go beyond minimum legal requirements on animal welfare, to gradually include all livestock species covering their entire lifetime including transport and slaughter, and to ensure a smooth interplay with existing labels.


Animal welfare has been a focus of the German presidency of the Council. Julia Klöckner, Germany’s federal minister of food and agriculture, said she was pleased more ambitious and higher standards were becoming an EU priority.

“A common EU label on animal welfare would increase credibility and transparency in our markets and would enable consumers to make more informed choices,” Klöckner said.

“It would also help reward producers who respect those standards.”

Nutrition labelling

Ministers found agreement on harmonised front-of-pack nutritional labelling harder to come by. Several delegations voiced their opposition to the plans due to disagreements over the formatting of such information.

This week’s Council meeting will be the last chaired by Germany, with Portugal set to take the baton for the next six months.

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