The EU needs a new strategy for the protection and welfare of animals, a non-legislative resolution the European Parliament adopted on Thursday stated.
The resolution stated that it would build on the current one which expires this year.
MEPs also called for better implementation of existing EU rules in all Member States to ensure high animal welfare standards across the EU.
Even though the level of animal welfare in the EU is one of the highest in the world, it should be further improved on the basis of scientific findings with due regard for the efficiency and competitiveness of agricultural livestock husbandry, the resolution said.
It was approved by 542 votes in favour to 73 against, with 23 abstentions.
MEPs urged the European Commission to evaluate the existing strategy and to draw up a new and ambitious one for 2016-2020 to ensure high animal welfare standards across the Member States.
MEPs also want the EU's executive to clarify and simplify current animal welfare rules without jeopardising animal welfare standards currently in place.
The European Parliament welcomed animal welfare efforts made by farmers in the various Member States and noted that it is scrutinising right now various pieces of legislation, including on animal health, organic production and official controls that should further improve the situation of animals in the EU.
However, concerns about the effective implementation of current EU animal welfare rules across the EU remain.
The improving of enforcement and compliance with existing legislative framework throughout the EU should therefore be a key goal, according to MEPs.
To this end the Commission should closely monitor the situation in all Member States, MEPs say, and adapt is policy instruments or introduce new ones to solve existing scientifically proved animal welfare problems.
It should also spread scientifically based best practices and support innovation and research on the development of new animal welfare techniques, according to the resolution.
The resolution states that the EU must be more ambitious in demanding reciprocity of animal welfare standards when negotiating international trade agreements and require equivalent standards for imported animal and products with strict controls in place to this end.
MEPs also want to ensure proper funding for farmers to prevent the relocation of production to countries with lower animal welfare standards.