The EU urgently needs to adopt a ‘One Health’ approach that recognises the interconnection between animal health, human health and the environment. This was the key takeaway from the ‘One Health, One Welfare’ event hosted by MEP Anne Sander (EPP, France) in the European Parliament on 19th September.
For attendees, including European politicians, trade associations, NGOs, professionals from a range of industries, experts in human health and veterinarians, the occasion was a significant landmark in elevating the prominence of animal health to the One Health approach. It was also a timely discussion platform, given the current and forthcoming legislation on animal health. It represented a significant step forward in the pursuit of comprehensive health and welfare policies.
At the event, organised by RPP Group and supported by MSD Animal Health, MEP Sander set the scene for the discussions. In her opening address, she highlighted the potential advantages of the One Health approach and acknowledged the importance of adopting a holistic approach to animal welfare, with a focus on preserving animals’ health thus protecting humans and the environment. Furthermore, she highlighted the unique nature of each species and the vital role played by European livestock farmers in ensuring the health of animals and their well-being. She stressed the need to “ensure that European livestock farmers are afforded both the necessary time and resources to accomplish these goals.”
“Ensure that European livestock farmers are afforded both the necessary time and resources to accomplish these goals” - MEP Anne Sander, (EPP, France)
Attendees then heard from Jean-Baptiste Moreau, Senior Advisor at RPP Group and former Member of the French National Assembly for La République En Marche. He demonstrated the key role that France had played in shaping the One Health debate, and how, by bringing together actors from various sectors, including agriculture, veterinary health, environment, and human health, France managed to actively contribute to the development of the One Health White Paper. This publication included no fewer than 36 recommendations and had the potential to positively reshape public policies and place a greater emphasis on the topic of animal health and its relevance for public health.
These introductions were followed by a Café Babel-style discussion, with six language-specific tables that examined the core topics for animal health in the EU. Their discussions revolved around national and regional policies related to One Health and Animal Welfare. The goal was to seek to identify approaches for how these can better contribute to, and be integrated into, EU policymaking. The moderators of each roundtable highlighted potentially innovative ideas and matters that may require further discussion at the institutional level.
In his concluding remarks, Miguel Angel Martin Esteban, Representative for Agriculture and Fisheries of the Spanish Permanent Representation to the EU, emphasised the need for continued collaboration across various sectors to encourage discussion on the One Health approach. These remarks highlighted the pivotal role that dialogue plays between European institutions, NGOs, trade associations and all the other stakeholders that are part of this debate. Such an approach helps harness the huge available expertise among stakeholders and generates a positive dialogue on the integration of best practices in the upcoming files.
"The need for continued collaboration across various sectors to foster the discussion on the One Health approach” - Miguel Angel Martin Esteban, Representative for Agriculture and Fisheries of the Spanish Permanent Representation to the EU
The participants jointly committed to advancing the cause of One Health and Animal Welfare in the European Union, with a call to action around the Animal Welfare legislative review soon to be submitted to the European Commission. This will lay the groundwork for greater discussions on the interconnection between animal health, human health and the environment.