Policy Statement: AnimalhealthEurope response to European Green Deal

11/12/2019

Earlier today, new Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented the European Green Deal. The new framework proposal takes an integrated approach to imposing measures to tackle climate change across a wide variety of EU policy domains, with a view to creating a sustainable and resilient European economy.

The animal health industry takes note of the ambitious targets the new Commission seeks to set for the EU. As the new Green Deal framework will shape our future agricultural practices and the competitiveness of our industries, AnimalhealthEurope takes particular interest in the upcoming Farm to Fork proposal. This will aim to impose a similarly integrated approach to different policy areas, from agricultural, to food and environmental policy.
With animal health as the cornerstone of livestock production, food safety and food security, the animal health sector is ready to contribute to the EU’s future sustainable food strategy.
Our concern is the health and wellbeing of more than 600 million farm animals and almost 300 million pets.

In times where the stakes on protecting EU citizens against the worst effects of climate change are high, and urgent action is called for, AnimalhealthEurope strongly encourages policy-makers to ensure that new policies are both science-based and risk-based. This means we should not pursue absolute reduction figures, but rather aim for true sustainability at a pace which will engage Europe’s farming community and ensure we have as many tools as necessary at our disposal to protect our animals.

Our industry offers a full range of solutions aimed at ensuring the optimal health of our animals. We provide treatment products that offer a range of health benefits, especially to sick or at-risk animals; we offer vaccines and anti-parasitics to help prevent consequences of disease, or possible secondary infections, and optimise the use of therapeutic treatments such as antibiotics; we provide digital surveillance tools which provide the ability to monitor animal identification, health status, behaviour, and more, to ensure a targeted treatment, enabling better informed animal health decisions, and earlier intervention when need. Other tools which contribute to the innovative nature of our sector include diagnostics, testing tools to better understand the susceptibility to disease; and of course our training and expertise, making Europe a leader in animal health and the second largest animal medicines market in the world.

As the animal health industry prepares to contribute to a future-proof greener policy, we would ask that the necessary measures are put in place to help our agri-food chain to transition gradually towards this greener approach. If we are to guarantee a boost for the competitiveness and sustainability of Europe’s industries, the “just transition” measures often cited must be equitable and supportive of our agri-food chain. Incentives must be put in place to ensure innovative farming techniques and health tools such as genomics, can be more widely used.

Climate change not only affects our quality of life and biodiversity, it also affects animal health, through contributing to the more rapid transmission of animal diseases. Our continued investment in innovation provides us with the tools to respond rapidly to protect animal health.