Brexit and animal welfare

We're campaigning to ensure animal welfare isn't compromised and our high standards are protected as new trade deals are negotiated as we leave the EU. We'd like to see the process of leaving the EU as an opportunity to improve animal welfare.

Join the animals on their interactive journey through Brexit

Journey through our interactive infographic to learn what's at risk for animal welfare when we leave the EU.

Brexit interactive infographic

What Brexit puts at risk for animal welfare

  • Pigs running towards camera outdoors by pigsty © RSPCA
    80 percent of current animal welfare legislation comes from EU law (with over 40 animal welfare laws)
  • EU animal welfare laws cover four key areas - there are 17 laws relevant to farm animals, 11 laws for wildlife, eight laws covering animals used in research, and four laws about companion animals
  • Current EU law, known as the Lisbon Treaty (a binding agreement between EU member countries), recognises animals as sentient beings, this means they're understood as having the capacity to feel pain and suffering
  • Depending on which trade framework is agreed post-Brexit, there's a possibility that new trade agreements will be made with countries which have lower animal welfare standards. For example, the USA gives growth hormones to their cows, still uses conventional battery cages (in most states), don't have species specific slaughter regulations and still uses sow stalls in most pig production
  • The UK farming industry currently receives over €3 billion in EU subsidies and the UK Government will now be exploring a new support system for farms.

You can find a more detailed summary of animal welfare laws in the UK before and after Brexit in Brexit - getting the best for animals (PDF 4.24MB).

What we want to see for animal welfare post Brexit

Now we've left the European Union we want to see the UK and Welsh Governments put animal welfare forefront in legislation and trade negotiations. In 2021, we'd like to ensure the following is maintained or improved upon:

  • Improvement in key areas of animal welfare, such as puppy imports, long-distance transport, ending live exports, food labelling and stopping fur imports
  • All animals to still be recognised as sentient beings
  • A new system of farm subsidies in England and Wales - rewarding the farming industry for higher welfare standards
  • Free trade agreements that prohibit products being imported with lower welfare standards

For further information on these issues please read our Into the fold: help for farmers (PDF 1.72MB) report.

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