Photo: © European Union, 2019
For European citizens, animal welfare is as important as freedom of expression and more important than combating corruption when stating their top priorities for the future of Europe.
The news came when the contents of a final report of the first EU-wide citizens’ consultation on future priorities of the EU was revealed this week, ahead of an informal meeting of the European Council on 9th May to discuss strategic plans for the Union in the years ahead.
More than 1 in 7 citizens said in an open question that decisions taken at EU level for the welfare of animals would make them prouder to be European.
When asked specifically what main actions the EU should prioritise “for the future of agriculture, fishery and food production in Europe”, respect for biodiversity, promotion of organic farming and vegetarianism, wise fishing, reduction of live transport and animal welfare in general all ranked highly.
The report is a concrete record that citizens rank animal welfare almost as highly as taxation and combating climate change when asked what they think should be priorities for the future.
Its conclusions reinforce the findings of the Eurobarometer in 2016, when huge numbers of EU citizens expressed overwhelming support for animal welfare, and highlight the ongoing and urgent need for action in light of the European Parliament’s 2017 report ‘Animal Welfare in the European Union’, which revealed that despite this strong support from the populace, EU law excludes or fails several important species, and much of the existing animal legislation is not up to standards.
The report’s conclusions will now be taken into account by Heads of State and Government in Thursday’s European Council meeting about the general direction the European Union should take, which is the next step in a broader “Future of Europe” debate.
“This is a wake-up call for many decision makers in Brussels, and it means the next Commission won’t have any way of wriggling out of their responsibilities to citizens and animals alike and will turn around the stalemate on animal welfare legislation,” said Reineke Hameleers, Director at Eurogroup for Animals. “We have long known how much Europeans want to see genuine improvements for animals by better EU legislation. Now we see that, for many, decisions on animal welfare are at the core of what it means to be European.”
Candidate MEPs can already pledge their support for animal welfare in Eurogroup for Animals’ Voteforanimals2019 campaign.
“We trust that Europeans will vote with their feet in three weeks based on our VoteforAnimals2019 campaign, and will ensure that the next Commission and Parliament deliver for animals,” said Reineke Hameleers. “Both the Party of European Socialists and the Greens have clear commitments to improve animal welfare in the next term. I hope we will now see similar commitments from other pan-European parties and candidates in the remainder of the campaign.”
It’s also hoped that with enough support via the #tellEurope Twitter campaign, a question on animal welfare can be tabled at the 15th May debate between lead candidates for the presidency of the new Commission.