Bold initiative to transform equine welfare across the EU clears first hurdle
The initiative, a draft Resolution of the European Parliament, which has been authored and spearheaded by Julie Girling MEP, takes many of the key conclusions from a study that World Horse Welfare and Eurogroup for Animals published in June 2015 ‘Removing the Blinkers: the health and welfare of Equidae in Europe’. This was the first research report to fully outline the scope, scale and welfare challenges of the EU’s equine sector. The report identified a number of key welfare concerns – including horses often kept in unsuitable environments and a lack of horse care knowledge among owners.
The draft Resolution’s recommendations include the provision of basic guidance on horse care to be produced and disseminated across the EU, a call for consumers and tourists to be empowered to choose horse businesses with high welfare standards and for funding mechanisms for smaller farms to be rewarded for good equine welfare.
Speaking after the vote in the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, the Rapporteur and equine welfare champion, Julie Girling MEP, said: ” Horses and humans have been best friends for thousands of years. Responsible ownership and care of horses should always be expected as a minimum but given the number of the health and welfare problems faced by Europe’s equids today, it is clear that it is too often neglected. Action is therefore not only necessary, but also overdue.
I strongly believe that the initiatives outlined in this report serve as an important first step to fully ensure that the welfare of the equid sector is sufficiently upheld. This report does not intend to call for additional legislation. I want to improve and strengthen the rules that already exist and to tackle ignorance through putti ng together guidance based on best practice across Europe.”
World Horse Welfare Chief Executive and Chair of the Equine Working Group of the Eurogroup for Animals network, Roly Owers, said: “Today’s vote represents a hugely significant step towards achieving recognition for the importance of the equine sector in Europe. This result is also a great example of collaborative work between animal welfare organisations and MEPs to ensure that equine welfare is made a key priority at the highest levels of the European Parliament.
“We are confident that the solutions outlined in the draft report will be effective in tackling some of the many welfare problems affecting Europe’s equine population so long as all Member States focus on their implementation.”