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Helping to improve animal health and welfare through European partnerships

Helping to improve animal health and welfare through European partnerships

The European Partnership on Animal Health and Welfare (EUPAHW) is by far the most ambitious research and innovation initiative the European Commission has funded to control infectious diseases of animals, and to promote animal welfare.

Launched this year, the innovative partnership is anticipated to invest €360 million over seven years to boost research and facilitate cooperation between all actors. The scope goes beyond the animal health and welfare actors to enhance cross sector collaboration and, through a One Health and One Welfare approach, to provide societal impact. The objectives of the EUPAHW align with the European Green Deal and its associated Farm to Fork strategy for a fair, healthy, and environmentally friendly food system.

The ambitious objectives of the EUPAHW have attracted a diverse pool of partners, including 56 leading research performing organisations and 30 funding organisations in Europe. The budget is 50% funded by the Horizon Europe Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, and 50% by the EUPAHW partner institutions/organisations. To date, the partnership has brought together 90 entities from 24 countries - 19 EU Member States and five countries associated to Horizon Europe.

The partnership is based on a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA), which has been developed over a two-year period, and involving all relevant actors. The SRIA balances short term applied and strategic research. Infectious diseases, both of terrestrial and aquatic animals, and zoonotic risks such as bird flu are addressed, together with research to improve animal welfare.

The partnership also focuses on the prudent use of antimicrobials and ensuring that a high level of animal welfare is provided in every phase of an animal’s life. The partnership includes 17 three-year research projects carried out internally, which start in 2024, and plans to launch research calls reaching out to additional research performing organisations beyond the partnership. Funding organisations not yet involved in the partnership may also contribute to these calls. 

Keelin O'Driscoll is the scientific lead for Teagasc on EUPAHW. She said: “The partnership represents a very significant investment by the European Commission and Member States in animal health and welfare. 

"Teagasc’s membership will build upon existing, and enable new collaborations, with our European colleagues in this important area. Membership of the partnership will improve our ability to exchange expertise and pool data with other experts across the EU, leading to better outcomes for European livestock”. 

Nathalie Vanderheijden of the University of Ghent, Co-Ordinator of the EUPAHW, sums up the partnership as follows: “Our partnership is a new, open initiative, bringing together EC funding, national/regional funders and research performing organisations to concentrate efforts on developments with high societal, economic and policy impact. Belgium, with its current presidency of the European Council for six months, appreciates the potential of unity in driving change.”

EFSA’s Chief Scientist Carlos Das Neves said in relation to the partnership: “We are pleased to announce that EFSA will be a full partner of the European Partnership Animal Health & Welfare. This is the first time that we will be a beneficiary in a research partnership under Horizon Europe, which will enable a smoother transition from research to regulatory science. We are prepared and committed to bring our expertise to the table, together with the best experts in Europe, for the benefit of animal health and welfare.”