The European fur sector’s animal welfare programme WelFur has been endorsed by the European Commission as a Self-Regulation and Co-Regulation Initiative. It is the first animal welfare programme ever to be promoted in the Commission’s database of so-called ‘soft law’ initiatives. “The European Commission does not promote whitewashing, so it is a recognition of the fur industry working responsibly with animal welfare and society,” Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe says. Fur Europe is the Brussels-based umbrella organisation for the entire European fur sector.
All programmes promoted under the Self-Regulation and Co-Regulation Initiative must go through an evaluation process in which the programmes are assessed against a range of principles including stakeholder participation, transparency, reliability, feasibility and legal compliance. Consequently, programmes promoted under the Self-Regulation and Co-Regulation Initiative are quite often the backdrop for binding legislation, and this is the very purpose for Fur Europe.
“Fur Europe supports the idea of taking binding animal welfare legislation to the next level, whether this is at national or EU levels. WelFur assesses the animals rather than the housing system. It is dynamic and future-proof, and it comes with serious sanctions towards non-complying farmers. If someone looks at fur animal legislation, there is really no reason to look elsewhere, because WelFur is exactly what animal experts recommend,” Mette Lykke Nielsen says.
WelFur is developed by independent scientists at seven European universities, and is being implemented on 3.500 European mink and fox farms in the period 2017-2020.
Facts about Self-Regulation and Co-Regulation Initiatives
- The European Commission has acknowledged a need for self- and co-regulations within markets or industries since 2001.
- This is based on the fundamental idea that self-regulation secures ownership amongst those affected by the regulation, and consequently compliance with the regulation will be better, even if the regulation is non-binding.
- Rather importantly, self-regulation also means authorities will have no costs associated with the enforcement of an alternative binding regulation.
- The downside to self-regulation is that it normally works without sanctions towards those who do not comply (WelFur however, is flanked by sanctions towards non-compliant fur farmers).
- In 2008, the database of Self-Regulation and Co-Regulation Initiatives was launched. It is designed to promote the initiatives which the Commission have endorsed, now including WelFur.
- In order to be obtained in the database a self- or co-regulation must live up a set of principles about transparency, openness, representatives, accountability, stakeholder engagement etc.
World's most extensive fur animal certification system Finnish Standards (Fox/Mink/Finnraccoon), which is owned by ProFur and developed since 2005, also includes WelFur assessment.
For further information, please contact
Finnish Fur Breeders’ Association - ProFur:
Olli-Pekka Nissinen, Communications Director, +358 50 306 2374