The establishment of Animal Welfare Reference Centres is laid down in the Official Controls Regulation (Articles 95 & 96). In 2018 the Commission designated a first European Union Reference Centre for Animal Welfare.

This first Centre entitled EURCAW-Pigs focusses on pig welfare since improving the enforcement of the legislation of pigs is one of the Commission's priorities in the area of animal welfare. EURCAW-Pigs provides scientific and technical knowledge to Competent Authorities of EU member states and their support bodies (science, training, communication), for the official controls on pig welfare requirements laid down in the European pig welfare legislation.

The partners in the consortium have extensive experience at national level in providing advice to their respective ministries on animal welfare related topics. They are also recognised as internationally leading institutes on animal welfare issues. Each partner has a relatively small team of 3-4 key staff who work in the Centre, and a much larger group of animal welfare experts from their own and affiliated institutes which they can call upon for additional support. Wageningen Livestock Research is the overall coordinator.

EURCAW-Pigs has 5 main areas of activity, described in detail in its Work Programme 2019-2020: 1. coordinated assistance, 2. welfare indicators to improve compliance, 3. science & technology needs, 4. training and 5. dissemination.