Wallonia adopts an ambitious Animal Welfare Code
GAIA welcomes several major advances for animal welfare in Wallonia, including a ban on battery caged hens – a first in Belgium!
GAIA welcomes the ministers’ adoption this morning, at first reading, of the draft decree of Minister Carlo Di Antonio (cdH) regarding the Walloon Code of Animal Welfare. “This new law is a significant leap forward for animal welfare in Wallonia, placing the region among the most progressive in Europe in terms of animal welfare,” declares GAIA's president Michel Vandenbosch. “One of the numerous measures proposed is the legal status of the animal as a sensitive being, endowed with needs, interests and dignity,” emphasises GAIA’s president.
One of the key measures of this new legislative project: the installation or commissioning of battery cages for the breeding of laying hens will be prohibited when the new law comes into force. The nine farms still active in the region will have to cease their activity by 2028 at the latest.
Among the other important advances set forth in the new Walloon Code for Animal Welfare are:
- The prohibition to keep cetaceans in captivity, thus preventing any possibility of establishing marine parks in Wallonia
- A definitive ban on fairground pony rides as of 1 January 2023
- Installation of video surveillance cameras in slaughterhouses and the availability of these images for consultation
- The prohibition of animal testing for cleaning products and biocides, including their ingredients
- The prohibition of glue traps
Other noteworthy advances to be highlighted include:
- Prohibition on keeping animals permanently tethered
- The possibility to tax laboratories based on the number of lab animals they use
- The commitment to develop a targeted strategy aimed at progressively diminishing the number of animals used in laboratories
- The obligation to provide shelter for all animals kept at pasture
One caveat remains, however: The government could not agree on the possibility of banning the cruel method of force-feeding for the production of foie gras, but there is still a chance for the Environment Commission to include an amendement to the current text.
Michel Vandenbosch comments: "The new Walloon Code undeniably represents a great step forward. It is not an end point, but a solid new starting point, paving the way to be strengthened in the best interest of Animal Welfare."
The draft decree will still have to pass to the Council of State, then to second reading to the Government, before being discussed in the Environment Committee in the Walloon Parliament, where members of the Commission will have the possibility to table amendments. The draft will then be submitted to the vote of deputies for final adoption in plenary session.