9 out of 10 Europeans want mandatory stunning before slaughter and call on the EU to preserve the right of Member States to protect animal welfare


9 out of 10 Europeans want mandatory stunning before slaughter and call on the EU to preserve the right of Member States to protect animal welfare

8 October 2020
Press Release
In stark opposition with the recent Advocate General’s opinion, EU citizens want all animals to be stunned before slaughter. 92% of EU citizens surveyed are also keen to allow Member States the right to adopt additional measures to ensure higher animal welfare standards during slaughter, as resulted from an EU-24 opinion poll.

For immediate release: Brussels 09/10/2020

The current European Union law states that all animals farmed for food production must be made unconscious (stunned using electricity, gas or a stun gun) before being killed. However, exceptions are made in the context of some religious practices. These practices very often result in animals being killed using a knife to cut their throat and bled to death while being fully consciousScience has unequivocally demonstrated such practices cause great suffering to animals.  

For this reason, some countries including Slovenia, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and two regions of Belgium (Flanders and Wallonia) adopted stricter rules with no exceptions to the mandatory stunning of animals before slaughter.

Specifically, in 2019 the Flemish Region prohibited the slaughtering of animals without prior stunning also for the production of meat by means of traditional rites. The Belgian Constitutional Court decided to refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for a preliminary ruling on the compatibility of this decision with the EU relevant law.

In September 2020 the Advocate General (AG) of the CJEU issued his negative opinion on the legitimacy of EU Member States to both prohibit slaughter without stunning and implement reversible stunning. This opinion will inform the CJEU's final decision which is expected by the end of 2020. 

If the CJEU follows the AG's opinion several Member States risk being obliged to change the progressive laws introduced in the past decade to relieve the suffering of animals at the time of slaughter, and this without due respect for the national acceptance of such measures, scientific progress and their impact on animals.   

The opinion poll results unmistakably show what European citizens think of slaughter with stunning:

  • It should be mandatory to make animals unconscious before they are slaughtered -  89% agree
  • Countries should be able to adopt additional measures that ensure higher animal welfare standards -  92% agree
  • The European Union should require all animals to be stunned before being slaughtered, even for religious reasons - 87% agree
  • The European Union should prioritise funding for alternative practices for slaughtering animals in humane ways that are also accepted by religious groups - 80% agree

The complete results can be found here

Citizens have clearly spoken in favour of animals saying it should be mandatory to make them always unconscious before they are slaughtered. Now it’s time for the EU to follow suit and allow Member States to adopt additional measures that ensure higher animal welfare standards.

Commented Reineke Hameleers, CEO at Eurogroup for Animals. 



  • In many Countries there are bans on slaughter without stunning while halal meat is still produced (e.g. Sweden and Denmark). Moreover, acceptance of stunning methods is increasing among religious communities in Malaysia, India, Middle East, Turkey 1, Germany 2, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
  • New Zealand banned slaughter without stunning and made reversible stunning mandatory. The meat produced is not only certified as Halal by the country local communities, but also by religious communities in Malaysia, India, Middle East, Canada and China that import halal meat produced in New Zealand
  • Reversible stunning: reversible electric stunning via electronarcosis. With this method, the animals are unconscious for a short period of time, and will regain consciousness if they are not slaughtered. 

Eurogroup for Animals and its member organisations commissioned Savanta ComRes who interviewed 23,126 adults online between 30 September to 7 October 2020 across 24 of the 27 EU Member States: Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Romania, Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Czechia, Sweden, Portugal, Hungary, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Slovakia, Ireland, Croatia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia. The 3 smallest EU Member States (Cyprus, Malta, Luxembourg) were excluded since it was unfeasible to conduct research among robust sample sizes in these countries. Data were weighted to be representative of the EU by each country’s relative population size and its demographics by age, gender and region. Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full tables available here. For full country reports, please contact us.

Press contact
Agnese Marcon, Communications Officer, Eurogroup for Animals
+32 (0) 456 078 038 

Eurogroup for animals
Eurogroup for Animals represents 70 animal advocacy organisations in 26 EU Member States, Switzerland, Serbia, Norway, Australia and the USA. Since its inception in 1980, the organisation has succeeded in encouraging the EU to adopt higher legal standards for animal protection. Eurogroup for Animals reflects public opinion through its membership organisations’ affiliations across the Union, and has both the scientific and technical expertise to provide authoritative advice on issues relating to animal welfare.