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Animal lovers [What Europe does for you]

With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for animal lovers.

Spending time with animals and caring for them makes us happy. Some of us have established deep bonds with animals, be it a dog, a cat or a bird.

The European Union has made it much easier for you to travel with your pet cat, dog or ferret. In most cases, all you need is a pet passport proving your pet has been vaccinated against rabies. For other pets, such as rabbits or canaries, the rules depend on which country you are travelling to.

© adogslifephoto / Fotolia

The European Union has been promoting animal welfare since the 1970s, gradually improving the lives of farm animals. European rules require farm animals to be free from hunger and thirst, not to suffer from discomfort, pain, injury or disease, not to be subjected to fear or distress and to be able to express their normal behaviour. These general principles are translated in specific rules for hens, cattle, pigs and other farm animals as well as rules on transport and slaughter. In 2017, the European Commission set up a ‘Platform on animal welfare‘ to help to develop measures to improve animal welfare. In addition, since 2009, the European Union has recognised animals as ‘sentient beings’, a fact reflected in EU policies on agriculture, fisheries, transport and research.

EU rules also protect wild animals. The European Union has set up a wide network of protected nature areas (Natura 2000) where wild species can thrive. It specifically protects birds, banning activities that threaten them directly and granting special protection to about 50 highly threatened wild bird species.

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