The time is now - animal protection organisations and MEPs urge the European Commission to uphold its commitment on animal welfare
The importance of a comprehensive and ambitious revision of the animal welfare legislation took centre stage at Eurogroup for Animals’ annual conference in Brussels.
Yesterday, over two hundred guests from all over Europe came together in Brussels and more than one hundred participants followed the online streaming for Eurogroup for Animals’ annual conference, just months before the European Commission (EC) is set to unveil its revised legislation on animal welfare.
This conference comes at a critical moment in time and animal protection organisations, along with MEPs, are calling on the European Commission to uphold its commitment to animal welfare, and to ensure a bold new legislation that allows for the true protection of animals.
Held at the Royal Library of Belgium, the event hosted Eurogroup for Animals’ member organisations from 26 Member States, MEPS, representatives of the European Commission, and other stakeholders.
The organisation was honoured to welcome Peter Singer, Professor of bioethics and author of ‘Animal Liberation Now’, The book is a revised version of the classic ‘Animal Liberation’, which was one of the foundations of today’s animal protection movement.
I am delighted to be able to present my new book, ‘Animal Liberation Now’, at the annual conference of Eurogroup for Animals. This book renews and brings fully up to date the ideas I presented in 1975 in Animal Liberation. Since that time, there has been a significant improvement in the conditions in which hundreds of millions of animals live in Europe, especially those in factory farms, and Eurogroup for Animals has been leading the way in its advocacy of these changes. Nevertheless, these reforms still fall far short of what is required for us to treat animals ethically, and without speciesism. What happens in Europe is important not only for animals in Europe, but worldwide, as it sets an example of what's possible. The EU institutions have the opportunity to be a leaderPeter Singer
During the event, Tilly Metz MEP (Greens, LU) insisted that the revision should not be further delayed because of the Regulatory Scrutiny Board that failed to analyse the long-term impact of such policies:“The science is clear, there is enough data, it is incomprehensible that this is delayed any further,” she said.
Niels Fugslang MEP (S&D, DK) expressed the strong desire among MEPs to have an Animal Welfare Commissioner, a significant role that will ensure more accountability and which has been widely supported by citizens.
The importance of securing a budget to protect farmers and support them in transitioning to cage-free systems was put forward by Andrea Gavinelli, Head of the Animal welfare and Antimicrobial Resistance Unit (EC), a remark supported by Joanna Stawowy, Member of the Cabinet of the European Commissioner for Agriculture.
“2023 is a critical year for the animals - after ten years, change is in sight, as the EC is set to revise its animal welfare legislation which is seriously outdated when it comes to science and civil societies’ demands. Over 20 EFSA opinions have not been incorporated in actual legislative provisions. This has resulted in a dire situation for the animals across the board. With 5- soon to be 6- European Citizens Initiatives calling for better animal welfare, the institutions can’t ignore this any longer. We trust the European Commission will uphold its commitments”, commented Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals.
“Factory farming is the biggest cause of food waste in the world, it undermines the very thing we all need - healthy soil. Not addressing the meat and dairy industry will mean that climate, biodiversity and food security talks will fail. Regenerative farming is the only way forward, we simply cannot afford not to change,” added Philip Lymbery, President of Eurogroup for Animals.
Keynote speaker Melanie Challenger, writer, researcher and broadcaster on environmental history, philosophy of science and bioethics added: "This is both an exciting and a testing time for our relations with other animals. Our exploitation of non-human animals has increased at the same time as our moral sensitivity, and those two shifts are out of sync. Exceptional times require exceptional responses. I believe we need to recognise the dignity of other species and find ways to allow them to be heard in the political arena."
During the event, Eurogroup for Animals presented its awards, which aim to acknowledge the efforts of member organisations and corporates in their fight for animal welfare. Djurens Rätt was awarded the Campaign for Animal Award for their campaign “The World’s Best Animal Welfare”, which featured an animated short movie that reflects the life of broiler chickens, and was streamed across cinemas in Sweden.
The Corporate Campaign Award was presented to IKEA Belgium for offering innovative solutions to the substitution of animal products and the use of animals in their products. GAIA, which submitted the candidature, welcomed the award: “We nominated IKEA Belgium for its commitment and approach. This is highly visible to both staff and customers in their restaurants where plant-based alternatives are given priority and are also offered at lower costs. This is the way forward for other businesses”, commented Ann De Greef, CEO at GAIA.