CEO of Eurogroup for Animals, Reineke Hameleers, introduced the Intergroup the top ten priorities for animal welfare during the next term. From an ambitious reform to the EU animal welfare legislation, to better legislation for companion animals, including a positive list for exotic pets, Ms Hameleers walked the Intergroup through the various key areas to focus on in the next legislative term. As the political parties are currently drafting their manifestos, members of the Intergroup had quite a lot to say about the current state of play.
MEP Thomas Waitz, a member of the Greens/EFA group said that for the European Greens animal welfare will play an important role in the campaign for the next European elections. Animal welfare related references will be included more extensively in the comprehensive political programme but also in the general manifesto of the European Greens.
MEP Sirpa Pietikainen, a member of the EPP group, mentioned that it might be difficult for her to push the prioritisation of animal welfare in the manifestos compared to other groups. However as her group focuses largely on agricultural policy and supporting farmers, there was certainly a need to ensure better welfare for production animals. She was particularly pleased with the Eurogroup for Animals campaign “No Animal Left Behind” as she highlighted the importance of including all animal species when talking about animal welfare.
MEP Niels Fuglsang (S&D, Denmark), was able to give an insight into the PES manifesto that is currently underway. Something he is particularly passionate about is the need for an EU Commissioner of Animal Welfare and said that he would like the S&D group to have that as one of their priorities in the next term. A commissioner with animal welfare in the title would ensure responsibility for the topics within that remit. MEP Maria Noichl, also a member of the S&D group, echoed Mr Fuglsangs’ sentiments and added that once MEPs who have committed to animal welfare are elected, there needs to be a meeting to ensure these MEPs follow through on their commitments.
MEP Petras Austrevicius, a member of the Renew Group, stated that he and a number of other MEPs had written a letter to ALDE requesting that the manifesto has a clear focus on animal welfare policy. He sent a strong message to NGOs, reminding them that a lot of the formation of the manifestos happens at national level. Therefore requesting NGOs to continue sending their national parties questionnaires on animal welfare and to make this public. Something that is absolutely necessary is that NGOs make animal welfare part of the mainstream public political debates.
Several MEPs from the Greens/EFA group took the floor. MEP Sarah Wiener highlighted the importance of the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and how it will be vital to ensure even more protection to animals and assistance for farmers to transition to higher welfare is achieved via the CAP. Furthermore MEP Caroline Roose highlighted that fish, octopus and all aquaculture needs to be given thorough attention as science develops on the welfare of various fish species.
In conclusion, the Intergroup will continue to ensure animal welfare is an integral part of the upcoming campaign for the 2024 European Elections, and looks forward to further debate and fruitful discussions on the topic.