06/23/14 Letter to Elected Croatian MEPs

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Animal Friends invites representatives in the European Parliament on improving animal welfare

Animal Friends had encouraged citizens to vote in the European elections since their votes define the future and welfare for billions of animals.

After the elections were held, as a member of Eurogroup for Animals, Animal Friends congratulated our elected representatives, trusting in a successful collaboration in animal protection.

Despite the recognition of the sentience of animals in the Lisbon Treaty, the EU has only attempted to govern the welfare of animals for economic purposes. International free trade agreements like the one currently being negotiated with the USA also further water down the rather limited legal protection of animals in Europe.

Luckily, over the last months more than 200 election candidates, among them 14 Croats, have signed a pledge stating that they will work on substantial improvements for animal welfare in the coming five year Parliamentary term.

Every year across the EU two billion poultry and 300 million livestock are used for farming purposes, approximately 12 million animals are used for scientific procedures and about 60 million dogs and 64 million cats are owned by European citizens. In addition the trade in live reptiles into the EU accounts for € 6.4 million and this does not include exotic and wild animals kept in zoos and aquaria. 11 million chickens, sheep, horses, cows and pigs are slaughtered every day, and 280 million live animals are transported each year.

European politics and regulations considerably affect animal welfare. Due to Europe's peculiar market and growing trade with Third World countries the future of many animals is defined by current European decisions, some of which are made by members of the European Parliament. Over the last three decades the EU has adopted some crucial legislation to better protect the welfare for animals including the ban on barren battery cages for laying hens (2012), calf crates (1986), individual sow stalls (2013) and the ban on animal testing for cosmetics (2013).

Even today a large number of animal species are not protected by the existing regulations, while many of these regulations were made simply to satisfy certain groups and individuals and are not implemented. For example, in some member states (including Croatia), pig tails are still being docked unnecessarily and illegally. Furthermore, in some member states the level of control and inspection is very low.

The new agreements on free trade can aggravate the situation even further because, even though European standards for animal welfare are not that high, they are still much better than the standards in the USA.

The European Parliament supports animal welfare and often pressures the European Commission and its member states to do more on the matter. This is why it is essential that the MEPs continue this work and fight to improve animal welfare since it is an important political matter that affects almost every aspect of life in Europe, and thus also in Croatia.

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