EU member states likely to miss pig welfare target

ALARMING figures suggest that with just weeks to go, around half of the EU’s member states will be non-compliant with the partial sow stall ban which comes into force on January 1 2013.

Figures presented to an EU standing committee last week revealed only five member states are currently compliant with the welfare rules – Austria, Sweden, Estonia, Luxemburg and the UK, where a full ban has been in force since 1999.

Less than half of the pig units in Belgium, Portugal and Germany are compliant and the worst offender is France with just 33% of their units compliant with the new rules.

Under the new regulation the length of time that sows may spend in individual stalls is limited to the first four weeks of gestation. The rest of the gestation period must be spent in group housing.

Doha fails to reach

agreement on agriculture

The latest round of international climate talks in Doha failed to reach an agreement to reduce global emissions from agriculture. However, world leaders did agree to push for more general action against climate change in the short term, a new global climate agreement in 2015 and a second period of the Kyoto Protocol to start on January 1 2013.

The 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18), which was held over the last two weeks, was attended by UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey.

Mr Davey said the final agreement was a “modest step forward”.

“We can be pleased that we have maintained the momentum towards a new legally binding agreement for 2020 after the Kyoto Protocol has expired. However, we still need countries to do more and be more ambitious about reducing their emissions if we are going to avoid irreversible climate change and prevent devastating global warming,” he said.

The main hurdle to including agriculture in any agreement remained the “adaptation” versus “adaptation and mitigation” argument. Meanwhile some countries were unwilling to discuss agriculture before the framework for a new binding agreement has been reached. Talks will now continue next year in Bonn, Germany.

2013 budget to be

finalised this week

The European institutions came to blows recently over the size of the EU’s 2013 budget with the parliament demanding that member states fill a shortfall of e9bn in the 2012 budget before negotiating for 2013. When the talks collapsed the commission came forward with a new proposal and behind the scenes meetings have been on-going in an effort to find an agreement before the end of this year. The positions have been edging closer and despite the UK, Sweden and the Netherlands voting against any increases in the budget, a compromise was approved at a council meeting last week. This compromise foresees a e6bn increase on the 2012 budget to make up a proportion of the shortfall and agrees that payments for 2013 would increase by 2.4% to e132.84. MEPs will vote at a plenary session on Wednesday.