European Parliament lawmakers from centre-right and right-wing groups consistently vote against measures to improve the welfare of farmed animals, finds a new analysis of over 10,000 datapoints published today by Compassion in World Farming. The NGO slammed this as a coordinated attack by political leaders and big agroindustry lobbies to thwart the world’s most comprehensive farm animal welfare reform.
Why u-turn of world's biggest animal welfare revolution?
Compassion in World Farming’s new report “EU votes for farmed animals” scores deputies’ votes on farmed animals since the beginning of this Parliamentary term in 2019. It reviews 16 key European Parliament votes aimed at improving the welfare of farmed animals. The data revealed that green and left-wing groups (Greens/EFA and The Left) vote consistently in support of measures to improve animal welfare, while the centre-right and right-wing groups (European People’s Party, European Conservatives and Reformists and Identity and Democracy) vote against.
The analysis is published amid revelations that the EU is backtracking on its commitment to revise its animal welfare laws – with millions of citizens expecting the world’s biggest animal welfare revolution that would free 300 million farmed animals from cages.
On 3 October, the European People’s Party coordinator for agriculture files, MEP Herbert Dorfmann, put pressure on the new EU Green Deal Chief during his hearing not to present the animal welfare proposals this political term. MEP Dorfmann has revealed to the media outlet POLITICO that the European People’s Party would have opposed a full-scale proposal for the EU to revise its animal welfare legislation.
On 4 October, DeSmog revealed that agriculture lobby groups have been in constant contact with influential European politicians, as part of an “unholy alliance” between Big Agri and a fixed group of MEPs against the implementation of the EU’s food strategy.
Orchestrated attack on democracy
"Even though some politicians have defied the party line, over the past few years we have witnessed a coordinated attack to thwart the world’s most ambitious animal welfare reform, orchestrated by the factory farming lobbies and spearheaded by certain political groups in the European Parliament," said Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU and substitute representative of the ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens’ Initiative. "They are now thwarting the world’s most comprehensive farm animal welfare reform to date. However, Europeans will not accept defeat, and neither will we. Our work will continue to represent the 1.4 million citizens who voted to End the Cage Age.”
“The farming lobbies have managed to convince certain political groups to present themselves as speaking for farmers ahead of the 2024 European elections," Olga added. "These groups, however, push for keeping the status quo, which does not help farmers prepare for the future and address the sustainability challenges they face in the 21st century. Citizens care deeply about animals. Next year’s elections can turn out to be yet another protest vote, fuelling anti-EU voices.”
Disconnect between citizens & MEPs
Our data-driven analysis shows a clear disconnect between what citizens ask for and how MEPs vote. While eight out of ten Europeans believe that the welfare of farmed animals should be better protected, this is not reflected in the votes of the elected representatives of the European citizens. Out of the 10,265 individual votes analysed, only four out of ten votes were for higher welfare of farmed animals during this political term. In some political groups, such as the European People’s Party, the situation is dire - only two out of ten votes from the European People’s Party meet citizen expectations!
Earlier in September, media reports revealed EU is considering dropping its plans for stricter animal welfare measures, following a coordinated right-wing backlash against the block’s environmental regulations. Among the new rules that are being killed by delaying is an unprecedented commitment to ban caged farming, made in response to a referendum-like action by 1.4 million citizens – the ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens’ Initiative, which Compassion in World Farming coordinated.
In the EU, every year about 300 million farmed animals still spend all or part of their lives in cages, pens or stalls, causing great suffering. Laying hens and rabbits, for example, are confined to spaces about the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Adult female pigs have to spend nearly half of every year inside crates, in which they cannot even turn around.