Fur Free Europe ECI: pending EFSA opinion fur farms in Europe could finally be banned


Fur Free Europe ECI: pending EFSA opinion fur farms in Europe could finally be banned

7 December 2023
Press Release
Fur farming and the placement of farmed fur products on the European market could finally be banned by EU law, but the European Commission (EC) failed to take a decision, instead opting to first await a scientific opinion by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The communication published by the European Commission comes in response to Fur Free Europe, in which more than 1.5 million citizens called on the EU to ban fur farming and the placement of farmed fur products on the European market once and for all.

The reply mentions a possible prohibition of fur farming and placement of farmed fur products on the European market, or alternatively other measures, after evaluation of the EFSA opinion to be put forward by March 2025.

The request for an EFSA opinion comes despite the fact that there is already a vast body of scientific evidence that concludes that the housing system in fur farms, cannot under any circumstances, meet the needs of species kept and killed for fur.  

However, we welcome the news of a consideration of a ban, and trust that the scientific opinion will reinforce the well-established scientific basis. 

While the Commission asked EFSA to “assess whether these welfare consequences can be prevented or substantially mitigated under current farming conditions”, the opinion should start from the animals’ specific needs, the main premise of this citizens’ call, as opposed to the infrastructure of the system, as several studies have concluded, consistently, that no level of cage enrichment can maintain animal welfare

Moreover, the mentioned EFSA mandate appears focused on the four main species kept and killed on EU fur farms: mink, foxes, raccoon dogs and chinchillas, while the ECI Fur Free Europe calls for a ban on keeping and killing all animals only or mainly for the purpose of their fur, regardless of the species. 

In conjunction with an EFSA opinion, the EC will evaluate several other areas which are impacted by the practice of fur farming, namely public health, environment, social, legal and economics. This comprehensive assessment will be conducted by March 2026, when a final decision is expected to be communicated.

The EC also plans an evaluation and assessment on the revision of the Textile Labelling Regulation, including a public consultation. Adopting labelling rules for fur products does not, in any way, catalyse any difference for the way animals are raised on fur farms and should not be considered as a solution to the welfare problems on fur farms. 

Since its peak in 2014, the fur industry in Europe has been in constant decline. In 2022, around 8.5 million animals were kept and killed for fur production in the European Union. 20 Member States have already totally or partially banned fur farming or implemented stricter measures on grounds of animal welfare, environment and public health. The call to ban fur farms in the EU has been supported by MEPs from all political groups and Member States joined the call at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council (AGRIFISH) in 2021 and 2023.

It is disappointing that the European Commission failed to take a decisive decision today, while millions of animals keep suffering while this horrendous practice continues to be legitimate in a ‘progressive’ Europe. The welfare of animals on fur farms cannot be improved, and the only option is a full ban, as asked by more than 1.5 million citizens, and reflected in the decision of many Member States. We trust that the EFSA opinion and the whole evaluation will reflect this, and that we will see a full prohibition, sooner, rather than later.

Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals