Animal welfare: New European Citizen Initiative calls for better protection of horses

Animal welfare: New European Citizen Initiative calls for better protection of horses
Credit: Unsplash/Diana Kumst

The European Commission decided on Wednesday to register a European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) entitled ‘End The Horse Slaughter Age’. It aims to put an end to what it calls a cruel and unsafe practice.

The European Citizens' Initiative was launched in 2012 as an instrument for participative democracy and has been recognized as a relatively effective tool in the aftermath of the Conference on the Future of Europe. Once formally registered, and after at least one million citizens from at least seven EU Member States have signed it, the Commission is expected to put forward a legislative proposal.

The organisers of the initiative call on the Commission to propose a law banning the slaughter of horses, including also their breeding and export for the production of fur, leather, meat or for the manufacture of medicines or other substances.

They also call for a ban on long-distance transportation of horses across Europe for slaughter and for the protection of horses from doing excess work or hard training.

The initiative describes the slaughter of horses for human consumption as a cruel practice that animal welfare organizations have denounced for decades. Horses purchased for slaughter are not old, disabled or unwanted. Slaughter is driven by a demand for horse meat although horse meat is unsafe for human consumption.

According to the initiative, every year around 5 million horses are slaughtered in the world. Among EU member states, Italy boasts a sad record as regards the number of horses slaughtered and the quantity of meat imported from abroad. In contrast, Greece banned in 2020 the slaughter of horses and has granted horses the same protection given to dogs and cats.

The most recent European Citizens' Initiatives on animal welfare have proven successful. A previous initiative to prohibit the use for cages for farmed animals was supported by 1.4 million citizens across all member states. It resulted in a Commission decision to put forward a legislative proposal by 2023 to prohibit the use of cages, as part of the revision of animal welfare legislation under the Farm to Fork Strategy.

Another success was reported in beginning of March, when the 'Fur Free Europe' initiative had received 1,7 million signatures, a record number of signatures in less than 10 months and 2,5 months before its official closing deadline. It also successfully reached the signatures threshold in 21 Member States. As previously reported, the initiative calls for or a ban on fur farming and marketing of farmed fur products in the EU.

M. Apelblat

The Brussels Times

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