Let’s set Brexit aside for a moment, if we can …
The European Parliament has the power to ensure better welfare for millions of farmed, companion and wild animals across the EU. That’s why the current EU elections will have a major impact on potential improvements for animal welfare in the next five years, and it’s essential that the newly elected MEPs are committed to operate in the interest of animals.
At election times, OneKind regularly receives queries from supporters asking about the animal welfare commitments of candidates and parties. Of course, we don’t know for how long EU animal welfare laws will continue to operate in Scotland and the rest of the UK. But the election is under way and so, as we normally do at election time, OneKind has contacted all the Scottish candidates to ask them to show their commitment to animals.
As one of 64 animal protection organisations in membership of Eurogroup for Animals, OneKind is supporting a joint campaign asking MEP candidates to a special Vote for Animals pledge to enhance the welfare of farm animals, animals used in research, wildlife and companion animals. We have reminded our Scottish candidates that citizens across Europe and in Scotland care deeply about the welfare of animals and are increasingly asking for higher animal welfare standards.
As long as the UK remains in the EU, the pledge will be directly relevant to animals in Scotland, but even under changed circumstances they can send an important signal to legislators and policy-makers for the next few years.
The pledge contains 22 separate policy commitments. Here are the topic headings and you can see more details for each pledge on the campaign website. Candidates are asked to commit to:
- Strive to ensure that animal sentience and its implications is acknowledged in all relevant legislative proposals and policy initiatives that come before the Parliament
- In the case of a revision of the Treaties, support the inclusion of animal welfare as a shared competence
- Urge the European Commission to ensure efficient enforcement and implementation of animal welfare related legislation in all Member States
- Support the adoption of a general animal welfare framework law to provide a minimum level of protection to all animals
- Promote and support policy developments for the introduction of better animal welfare standards
- Call on the Commission to appoint a Commissioner on Animal Welfare
- Endeavour to minimise live animal transport by replacing the transport of live animals for slaughter with the trade of meat and carcasses
- Promote a swift phase out of the use of all cages for the rearing and keeping of farmed animals
- Support a revision of the Broiler Directive to substantially improve the welfare of broiler chickens
- Ensure that farm animal welfare will be made a priority in the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy
- End the practice of force-feeding of ducks and geese used for foie gras production
- Ensure all animals are always effectively stunned prior to slaughter
- Support the introduction of new rules to safeguard the welfare of fish particularly at the time of slaughter and during transport
- Support the adoption of an EU positive list of exotic pets determining which exotic animals can be traded and kept in the EU
- Adopt an EU ban on the use of wild animals in circuses
- Promote coexistence with and non-lethal management of wildlife in the EU
- Support the adoption of national bans on fur farming and oppose initiatives which provide EU endorsement to the fur industry
- Promote the welfare and responsible care of equines supported by robust identification and traceability
- Promote the introduction of compatible systems of identification and registration of dogs and cats at the EU level in order to ensure more efficient traceability of those animals
- Promote the adoption of a comprehensive and concrete EU strategy with milestones to phase out the use of animals in research, testing and education
- Ensure that imports of animal-based products from third countries fully respect EU animal welfare standards
- Join the European Parliament’s Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals.
So, how have the candidates responded?
To date, the pledge has been taken by David Martin (Scottish Labour), Maggie Chapman (Scottish Greens) and Mags Hall (Scottish Greens). Two Scottish Liberal Democrats, Sheila Ritchie and Clive Sneddon, also responded indicating their commitment to animal welfare although they preferred not to sign up to the detailed pledge.
It’s a low response rate, although it’s quite respectable compared with the rest of the UK. In the interests of fairness, it has to be said that candidates have had very little time to respond to this campaign, because the UK elections have been so late in starting. For that reason, we decided not to ask our supporters to back up our request with further emails. However, if you are engaging with any Scottish candidates, for example at hustings or on social media, please do remind them about the Vote for Animals pledge! There’s still time and it’s a much more positive topic than Brexit …
We will update this page if (when!) more candidates sign up.