Photo: R. Reverie
The Finnish Presidency of the Council of the European Union starts today, with the advancement of animal welfare included in their Presidency Programme.
The new Presidency comes at the start of a new political term in Brussels and Strasbourg, and is therefore key in setting the tone of the new term. Finland’s promise in its Presidency Programme to ‘foster animal welfare’ means that their accession today is particularly welcomed by Eurogroup for Animals and other animal advocates.
The Presidency comes at a crucial time as the new European Parliament and the Council will seek to converge around the proposed legislative package on a new Common Agricultural Policy. Eurogroup for Animals is also planning to hold an event with the Presidency and leading life science institutes at the end of the year that could pave the way to a true European strategy for the reduction and replacement of animals used in research.
“The coming six months are a crucial period in terms of setting the agenda at EU level. We applaud the Finnish Presidency’s commitment to improving animal welfare at such a crucial time, and look forward to working with them to this end,” says Reineke Hameleers, Director of Eurogroup for Animals. “Ensuring the new Common Agricultural Policy promotes rather than hinders such improvements will be the biggest test of this commitment. Eurogroup for Animals would like to see a dedicated budget line for animal welfare within the new CAP – something several Member States support – and securing this as part of the discussions on the Union’s multi annual budget would be a huge success. Also, we look forward to liaising with the Presidency to outline how the use of eco-schemes could dramatically improve on-farm welfare.
“We are also hopeful that we can work with the Presidency to showcase how an ambitious and innovative approach to life sciences can reduce the need for animal testing. Sadly, the number of animals used for this purpose is still not decreasing, despite the steady EU investment on alternatives to animals in science. However, we are confident that Finnish scientists can show how this can be addressed. Where they have led, many others across Europe should follow.”
Finland is considered progressive from an animal welfare point of view, with 99% of respondents in the country considering animal welfare to be ‘important’ in the 2015 Eurobarometer on European Attitudes towards Animal Welfare, and an increased number believing that the welfare of farmed animals should be better protected than it is now. This attitude is reflected in the political arena; no fewer that 53 Finnish MEP candidates signed our animal welfare pledge, and the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals has had a Finnish MEP, Sirpa Pietikäinen, as its president for the past four years.
Joe Moran, Political Affairs Adviser | Eurogroup for Animals
Tel: +32 (0)2 740 08 26