During the Annual Conference of Eurogroup for Animals, on Wednesday 21 June 2017, the two Vice-Presidents of the Animal Welfare Intergroup Marlene Mizzi (S&D, MT) and Stefan Eck (GUE/NGL, DE), have won this year’s EU4Animals award.

This prize recompenses EU-policy makers or EU entities with outstanding merits for the improvement of animal welfare policy at EU level. The recipient of the EU4Animals award must have demonstrated, over a significant period of time, dedication to the cause, combined with a strong sense of commitment and determination to achieve concrete results.

As Vice-Chair of the Committee on Petitions and Vice-President of the EP Animal Welfare Intergroup, Marlene Mizzi has been among the most proactive MEPs to support and promote animal welfare related issues during this term.

In 2016 she co-hosted an EP-event on the Welfare of Ducks during Foie Gras Production which has opened new perspectives to approach this major animal welfare problem. Instead of calling for a ban on foie gras production it was suggested to promote lower minimum liver weights for the birds, allowing the avoidance of force feeding. This event was also the trigger for ongoing follow up actions.

On 18th November 2016 she has hosted the Conference ” Rights of the Voiceless” in Malta with the purpose to make sure that the Maltese Presidency would take up animal welfare related work, notably to guide the creation of the new Animal Welfare Platform, to promote companion animal welfare and to undertake new initiatives to tackle the problems related to the keeping of and trade in exotic animals as pets. Thus, in February 2017 the Maltese Presidency co-hosted the seminar “Think Positive:  why Europe needs positive lists to regulate the sale and keeping of exotic animals as pets and in March 2017 a conference on dog and cat population management.

Marlene Mizzi has been also instrumental in asking for a European Parliament research study on “Animal Welfare in the EU” which was commissioned by the Petitions-Committee and drafted by Prof. Donald Broom, University of Cambridge. The study has been published at the beginning of 2017 and clearly highlights the need to end the current stalemate in this policy area.

Not at least Ms Mizzi has taken the lead to promote a ban of the use of wild animals in circuses. In this regard she has co- hosted a seminar in March and  is currently promoting an oral question on a ban of the movement of wild animals in circuses which should be placed on a plenary agenda of the House and result in a related Parliamentary motion for a resolution.

For Stefan Eck MEP, the other EU4Animal Award laureate the promotion of animal welfare and species conservation are the quintessence of his mandate. There is almost no animal welfare related initiative or event in the Parliament where he is not involved making him  as the moderator Philip Lymbury said, the uncontested “Mr Animal Welfare of the European Parliament”. It’s needless to say that many MEPs turn to him when it comes to seeking allies for their own animal welfare related initiatives.

His sincere, relentless and unconditional passion for animal welfare has brought him the respect and appreciation of MEPs from all political directions. Best evidence for this is the successful adoption of his own initiative report on minimum standards for the protection of farmed rabbits which was adopted by a comfortable majority of the House in mid-March. Despite  considerable efforts to water down Stefan Eck’s initial draft report it was possible to include the call for species specific legislation for the protection of farmed rabbits in the final report.

The Eck report is so far one of the major animal welfare related achievements of this term. Even though it is unlikely that it will lead to legislation still during this term, it has given hope that things can move on despite the legislative inertia of this current Commission.

Stefan Eck is also the most regular of all Animal Welfare Intergroup Members. Since the beginning of the term he only missed one session showing his complete commitment to the cause.


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