Animal Health


In order to prevent and to combat diseases afflicting animals, the European Union has devised measures to limit the risks of outbreaks and the spread of these diseases and to eradicate them once they have been detected. These include veterinary checks and food hygiene, and includes general provisions on the surveillance, notification and treatment of infectious diseases and their vectors, and specific provisions for certain diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), foot and mouth disease or bird flu.
But, the concept of animal health covers not only animal diseases but also the critical relationship between animal welfare, animal health and food safety. Consequently the EU adopts an integrated approach to animal health as its remit covers the safety of the whole food chain. Many animal diseases can pose a risk to consumers via the food chain or, less commonly, through other pathways including direct transmission.
Community action will be aimed at reducing this risk of threats to animal health to a negligible level. Furthermore, the Community applies the precautionary principle, which provides for the use of temporary measures if there is a potentially serious threat to health but no scientific certainty of this.

Guiding Question

Does the option have an impact on health of animals?

Relevant policies

The regulatory framework for Community action in this field is set out in the EU Animal Health Strategy for 2007-2013 adopted in September 2007. EU animal health policy covers all animals in the EU kept for food, farming, sport, companionship, entertainment and in zoos. It also covers wild animals and animals used in research where there is a risk of them transmitting disease to other animals or to humans.
The EU has adopted a range control measures on specific animal diseases including Bluetongue, Foot-and-mouth disease and Classical swine fever. Eradication and monitoring programmes co-financed by the EU are also in place for diseases that exist in the EU such as Rabies and Brucellosis. Specific legal frameworks apply for some diseases such as TSE/BSE and Avian Influenza.
For more information on concrete legislative measures, please visit


DG Health and Consumers:

Further sources of data


Further sources of information

DG Health and Consumers:
European Food Safety Authority:
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations:

Eurostat Indicators

The following Eurostat Sustainable Development Indicators might be of relevance to address the key question:
- Livestock density index

Other Official Indicators