The Legal Summary
by Mirjami Kajander-Saarikoski
by Mirjami Kajander-Saarikoski - The European Union has legal competence to intervene in the ongoing cruelties directed at Romania’s surplus dog population. The legal competence is primarily based on public health (Article 168 of TFEU).
- Of particular relevance to public health are zoonotic diseases (animal diseases transmittable to human beings), notably Rabies and Echinococcus Multilocularis.
- Romania’s rabies eradication programme is co-financed by the European Union. Dog population control is explicitly listed among the measures agreed to be implemented by Romania under the programme.
- Unfortunately, Romania has chosen to implement dog population control by way of methods that are in flagrant violation of its international contractual obligations and international best practice. Romania is in the process of removing hundreds of thousands of dogs (“Catch & Kill”). According to unanimous global expert opinion, “Catch & Kill” is neither an effective nor a cost-effective policy. A “Catch & Kill” policy will not prevent a constant flow of new unwanted dogs in the future.
- A “Catch & Kill” policy shows that the policymakers have not understood where unwanted dogs come from. Under international best practice, the key to prevent the explosion of an unwanted dog population is a credible sterilization and public awareness programme.
- In order to qualify for EU co-financing, EU law calls for the choice of effective and cost-effective policies. Until “Catch & Kill” is replaced by a solution based on international best practice, Romania’s rabies eradication programme is not legally eligible for co-financing from the EU Agricultural Guarantee Fund.
- Furthermore, the burden of proof is on the EU Commission when it assumes that EU funds granted to Romania under other programmes are not being used, directly or indirectly, to fund Romania’s large-scale dog management business, enriching private businessmen operating as contractors to local administrations in Romania. This applies notably to the Regional Operational Programme, as co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. As the guardian of EU funds, the Commission should be able to credibly exclude any connection between EU funds and the multi-million euro dog management business in Romania, more often than not operated by vague companies whose company names would rather suggest their field of operation being construction, waste management or consulting.
- Any continued embrace by the European Union of the Romanian “Catch & Kill” policy constitutes a breach of not only EU law, but a flagrant violation against European values, including the recognition of animals as sentient beings (as enshrined in Article 13 of TFEU).
- Incidentally, it is in the interest of the Romanian businessmen operative in Romania’s large-scale dog management business that the surplus dog issue is never solved. This will ensure a constant flow of “raw material” and a continued profitability of their business model for the years to come.
On 23 January 2014, a total of 211 European non-governmental organizations co-signed a legal letter to Commissioner Borg. The legal letter has, subsequently, been supported through petition by over 24,000 private individuals from all corners of the European Union. The status of this initiative can be followed on a dedicated website: europeancommunicationsteam.weebly.com
About the Author
Mirjami Kajander-Saarikoski (Finland), is a Master of Laws, and the co-initiator of the 'European Communications Team'