March 17, 2016
Guest blog post by Reineke Hameleers, Director at Eurogroup for Animals.
Looking for an issue to unite Europe?
Look no further than animal welfare.
Citizens want an EU that acts for animals, more than it currently does. And they want that action now.
The special Eurobarometer on animal welfare shows beyond doubt EU citizens care deeply about animals.
Support for animal welfare among Europeans is so high that it would make any MEP jealous.
Nine out of 10 Europeans believe imported products should respect EU animal welfare standards. They also think the EU should do more to promote animal welfare awareness worldwide.
94% said protecting the welfare of farm animals is important.
89% believe there should be EU legislation that requires people to care for animals used for commercial purposes.
82% think farm animals should better protected than they are now.
74% said companion animals need greater protection.
59% of all European citizens are willing to pay 5% more for animal-friendly products.
Overwhelming public support for animal welfare isn’t restricted to a small number of member states or any particular corner of Europe. Interest in animal welfare is strong throughout the EU.
For example, 99% of those polled in Sweden, Finland and Portugal think protecting the welfare of farm animals is important as do 86% in Croatia, Hungary and Poland.
This massive support for animal welfare reflects the hard work over many years of our 49 national and international member organisations in 29 countries. Eurogroup for Animals represents tens of millions of citizens working towards a Europe that cares for animals.
The Eurobarometer is rallying cry for the European Commission to take civil societies’ views about animal welfare more seriously.
It’s time for Europe to act for animals.
Of course, the EU is in the forefront of animal welfare on many issues. These accomplishments are significant. They’re to be celebrated. But there’s more to do for animals on the farm, in commercial practices and in our homes.
83 000 000 pigs are castrated annually without pain relief or anaesthesia.
Existing legislation on tail docking of pigs is not being enforced.
1.037 billion farm animals are transported annually over long distances in horrible conditions.
There’s no maximum transport duration. In many destination countries, animal welfare rules are lacking and slaughter conditions are appalling.
There’s a 100% increase in the number of imported animals and animal products in the last decade. These imports in most cases don’t comply with European animal welfare standards. Transparency on the origins of imported products is lacking.
Dairy cattle, beef cattle, rabbits, ducks, geese and farmed fish aren’t protected under EU law. They suffer from welfare problems due to the continuing intensification of industrial farming.
The legal and illegal trade in pets and exotic animals is booming. There are no proper legal mechanisms to safeguard their welfare and prevent suffering.
There are no objective, mandatory labelling mechanisms for consumer products other than the successful scheme for shell eggs.
I could go on. But it’s time to move on.
And the timing couldn’t be better.
The European project is under intense scrutiny. Its future is in the spotlight. Its foundations are being tested by a number of concurrent crises.
Rather than being seen as a peripheral issue, perhaps even as a luxury, animal welfare provides the Commission with a means to connect with individual citizens, and to demonstrate the true value of European solutions.
As Europe’s federation of animal advocacy organisations, Eurogroup for Animals wholeheartedly welcomes the results of the special Eurobarometer on animal welfare.
The survey demonstrates beyond doubt that EU citizens care about animal welfare. It also reveals that citizens see a clear, added value for the role of the European institutions in furthering the welfare of animals.
If the European Commission wants to bring the EU closer to its citizens, and demonstrate its value as an international institution, start work now with animal welfare.