Should Animal Welfare Regulations Be More Restrictive? A Case Study in Eight European Union Countries
Institute for Research in Sustainability Science and Technology (IS-UPC), Polytechnic University of Catalonia, 08034 Barcelona, Spain
Centre for Agro-food Economy and Development, CREDA-UPC-IRTA, 08860 Castelldefels, Spain
Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology—IRTA, Animal Welfare Subprogram, 17121 Monells, Spain
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 February 2019 / Revised: 26 March 2019 / Accepted: 18 April 2019 / Published: 25 April 2019
Intensive animal production systems are compromising current animal welfare standards. European societies’ growing concerns regarding how animals are raised have resulted in continuous European Union (EU) policy reforms that have banned certain intensive farming methods. We investigated whether EU respondents, differentiated by their roles as citizens and consumers, believe that the current regulations on animal welfare should be more restrictive. Data were collected using a survey approach implemented in eight European countries (Spain, the United Kingdom, Poland, Greece, Lithuania, Romania, Italy, and Sweden) with a sample of 3860 respondents. The results show that women citizens are more concerned with animal welfare and are prone to accept more restrictive regulations. Respondents from northern European countries (Poland and Sweden) are willing to accept regulations that are more restrictive than the current minimum standards than respondents from southern countries (Spain and Italy). Our results suggest that increasing knowledge of animal welfare is related to effective information campaigns that use the Internet to endorse the current animal welfare legislation.