Centraal Israëlitisch Consistorie van België e.a. and Others v. Vlaamse Regering, Case C-336/19, CJEU (Grand Chamber), 17 December 2020
The CJEU recently expressed its opinion, in a preliminary ruling, on the compatibility with EU law of a national legislation which requires, in the context of ritual slaughter, a reversible stunning procedure, unsuitable for resulting in the death of the animal. The referring Judge (the Belgian Constitutional Court) asked, in particular, whether art. 26.2, c. 1, point c), of Regulation (EC) no. 1099/2009 should be interpreted as meaning that, notwithstanding art. 4.4. of the same Regulation – which exempts the slaughtering of animals conforming to the methods "prescribed by religious rites" from the obligation of preventive stunning –, allowed the member States to introduce a discipline of that content (First Question). In the case of an affirmative answer, it was also asked whether the provisions of the Regulation, thus interpreted, violated art. 10 EUCFR (Second Question), as well as arts. 20, 21, 22 EUCFR (III question), due to the different regulations envisaged for other activities, such as hunting, not included in the Regulations.
With respect to the first two questions, the European Judge observes how the Regulation reserves for the Member States "a certain level of subsidiarity" (Recital 18) in balancing the interests involved, while respecting the fundamental rights enshrined in the Charter, as they are engaged in the implementation of the European Union law (art. 51 EUCFR). In particular, a discipline such as that exposed by the referring judge would respect the criteria established by art. 52 EUCFR, as it is necessary to pursue a general interest (the protection of animal welfare, as enshrined in art. 13 TFEU) and proportionate. As for the last question, the Court considers that the diversity of slaughtering activities (including ritual slaughter) for the production of food and those of killing animals for hunting purposes does not make the differences in treatment unreasonable and, consequently, does not affect the validity of the of secondary legislation provisions involved.
(Comment by Andrea Cesarini)