Taking Stock of Art. 13 TFEU in EU Agriculture: Reading Art. 13 as a Whole

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Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. Evolution of Animal Welfare Law and policy in EU agriculture. – II.1. Minimum animal welfare standards. – II.2. CJEU interpretation. – III. Art. 13 TFEU: mainstreaming animal welfare in EU agriculture policy. – III.1. Legal effect. – III.2. Limitations and tensions. – IV. CJEU reading. – IV.1. Halal Grand Chamber. – IV.2. Centraal Israëlitisch Consistorie van België Grand Chamber. – IV.3. An EU market? – IV.4. Art. 13 TFEU: read as a whole. – V. Comments in conclusion.

Abstract: Minimum standards of welfare for farm animals in harmonised EU norms derive from the Treaty Title on Agriculture in the absence of a conferred competence in animal welfare. Subsequently, a competence “of sorts” in animal welfare has been inserted into the Treaties in art. 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Art. 13 TFEU incorporates an integrative stipulation to pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals as sentient beings in the formulation and implementation of certain EU policies, inclusive of EU agriculture policy, while respecting the customs of Member States relating in particular to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage. Yet, in the constitutional framework of the Treaties there are limitations, and tensions arise between EU policy in agriculture and the non-market objective of animal welfare. Art. 13 TFEU is not driving evolving EU policy in farm animal welfare or EU legislative revision; the legal force of art. 13 TFEU remains in doubt. Concomitantly, recent CJEU Grand Chamber rulings in EU agriculture/animal welfare law read in the light of art. 13 TFEU have recognised the marked social and cultural momentum to improve the welfare of animals in agriculture, and reinforced the constitutional standing of art. 13 TFEU, with positive implications for animal welfare mainstreaming. This Article explores the application of art. 13 TFEU in EU agriculture policy, and reasons that the scope exists for the CJEU further to exploit its potential.

Keywords: animal welfare mainstreaming – EU agriculture policy – art. 13 TFEU – CJEU interpretation – common organisation of the market – societal/cultural concern.

European Papers, Vol. 8, 2023, No 1, pp. 191-219
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/646

* PhD, University of Lincoln UK, dianeryland@outlook.com.


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