Male chicks ground up alive, hens debeaked and amputated without anesthesia, animals locked in cages to be tortured in vivisection experiments, or used to serve the fashion industry for their fur. There are many, infinite atrocities that take place every day behind the thick walls of intensive farms and slaughterhouses. But anger and indignation today have an important opportunity to give way to awareness and real change. As long as support is given to candidates for the European elections ready to defend animals in their basic rights: dignity, well-being, lack of suffering.

There are just a few hours left until the European elections on 8 and 9 June 2024. An event that could mark an epochal turning point for the well-being of millions and millions of animals. This is a topic that is close to the hearts of many voters, and not as marginal as certain newspapers, commentators and politicians would have you believe.

It is the statistical data that offers us a glimpse into how the animal issue is perceived and experienced: according to the recent survey Youtrend/Quorum 85% of Italian voters want politicians to be more committed to defending animal rights. A transversal interest, moreover: those who support the need for a change in the management and protection of those who cannot defend themselves are young and old, women and men, people with a long school and university education behind them as well as citizens who left their studies to enter the world of work at a very young age.

In short, it is a great opportunity that awaits Europe after the vote: the possibility of improving the living conditions of animals in a strong and coherent way.

The 10 points of “Vote for Animals”

The European campaign coordinated by Eurogroup for Animals is called Vote for Animals 2024, and in Italy it can be viewed and learned about in detail on the website, created thanks to the coordination of Animal Law Italia, Ciwf Italia,essere animali and lav. And from this work of close collaboration and sharing of intentions the Manifesto “Animals also vote” was born, where ten key programmatic points are illustrated. In the previous weeks, the candidates for the European elections had the opportunity to join the manifesto and this will allow citizens, through the site, to discover the candidates of their own constituency with their commitment in the direction of a real revolution in the perception of animals and standards of living that must be guaranteed to them.

Here are the ten points:

1. Abolition of cages on farms and support for the progressive elimination of cages as per the request of the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “End the Cage Age” maintaining the first positive public commitment made by the EU Commission. But that unfortunately did not translate into reality, since in October 2023 the Commission succumbed to pressure from the livestock industry lobbies, withdrawing the revision of the legislation from its work programme, with the sole exception of the proposals on animal transport alive and on the well-being of dogs and cats.

2. Reform of European legislation on animal welfarewith high standards and specific advancements for all terrestrial species on farms, which also includes the end of shredding male chicks, the beaking of laying hens and a stop to the use of genetically selected breeds such as the fast-growing ones used for chickens “from meat”.

The mistreatment suffered by animals is visible today thanks to the investigations of associations that have managed to document and film atrocities of all kinds. We ask for the inclusion of fish and water invertebrates in the protection legislation, a ban on the introduction of octopus farming and the obligation of pre-slaughter stunning for all animals, going beyond the exemption granted for cases of slaughter ritual.

3. Request to provide for the end of long-distance transport of animals for breeding and slaughterthe ban on the transport of pregnant and unweaned animals, as well as the export of live animals to non-EU countries, which see them subjected to exhausting journeys in extreme and unacceptable conditions.

4. Transition towards a plant-based diet, with support for a European Food Policy that favors food with a high animal welfare content, plant production and animal products from cellular agriculture as well as labeling that reports production methods. In short, people who choose to buy meat and animal derivatives must know what happens in the phases preceding the arrival of the product on the supermarket counter.

5. Review of the Common Agricultural Policy and aid for the conversion of livestock farms towards more sustainable forms, starting from the elimination of the use of cages and the reduction of the number of animals raised.

6. Substitute methods for animal testing with the Stop to all cosmetic tests on animals in compliance with the European Citizens’ Initiative “Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics” registered on 30 June 2021, which asked the Commission to protect and strengthen the ban on animal testing for cosmetic products, as well as to transform European chemicals legislation and modernize science, committing to phase out all animal testing before the end of the current legislature.

7. Tprotection of wild animals and support for wildlife recovery centres with the adoption of a “positive list” at European level against the trade and possession of exotic animals such as the one already created by Italy and other Member States. In Italy, on 11 October 2022, the Ministry of Health published a decree in the Official Journal to more stringently regulate the trade and detention of exotic animals. Added to this is compliance with the European “Habitats” and “Birds” directives and extension of the protection of newly endangered species such as bears and wolves. We also ask for support for wildlife recovery centres, the disincentive of zoos and aquariums and the exhibition of animals in circuses and dolphinariums, but also the introduction of a ban on the import, export and re-export of hunting trophies from protected animals. from Cites.

8. Ban on the production and trade of animal fur as established by Italy and other Member States and extension of the ban on trade in products made from animal fur in compliance with the European Citizens’ Initiative “Fur Free Europe”. The ICE was launched on March 18, 2022, only to be closed as early as March 2023, 2 months early, having already reached 1.5 million certified signatures. European citizens have called on the Commission to intervene to ban two main practices: the keeping and killing of animals for the exclusive or main purpose of producing fur, as well as the placing on the European Union market of farmed and products that contain them. Since there is no specific European legislation on animal welfare regarding animals bred for fur production, there is a tendency to apply the regulations envisaged for the protection of animals on farms, which however have proven ineffective in guaranteeing protection.

9.Fight against strays and the abandonment of dogs and cats with a new regulatory proposal presented by the European Policy Commission for the prevention of strays and the abandonment of dogs and cats, combating the trafficking of puppies, with provisions on breeding, transport and sale as well as on kennels and shelters. Illegal trade remains a serious phenomenon and there is a lack of European legislation: MEPs have asked for an action plan for the entire European Union, more severe sanctions and mandatory registration for all puppies, encouraging the adoption of dogs and cats instead of purchasing.

10. Integration of animal welfare in the qualification of the relevant European Commissioner (Health and Food Safety) and establishment of a Commission attentive to animal protection in the European Parliament.

With the #EUforAnimals petition, the delegation of responsibility for animal welfare was requested to be attributed to the positions that deal with health and not to the bodies that consider animals as objects of production – the Commissioner for Agriculture. The Eurobarometer results show that 84% of Europeans and Europeans want greater and more effective protection of animal rights and the establishment of a competent European Commissioner is essential to ensure an adequate response to the shared need to better protect the animals.

A great opportunity for Europe

The exploitation of animals is an uncomfortable topic. A theme that creates tensions between lobbyists and category representatives, and which Giulia Innocenzi’s docufilm Food for Profit has been able to expose in recent months, antagonizing farmers and trade associations.

But we don’t stop at the vote: the complex relationship between animals and politics will continue to exist. The interests in maintaining certain things as they are today are infinitely great, where the circulation of money reaches very important heights.

We appeal, then, to the conscience of the individual citizen, ready to gather information, to learn, not to look the other way, rather taking note that the true way not to see the horrors and tortures inflicted on animals and to ensure that they cease to exist. And a possibility, by voting for the right candidates, is within everyone’s reach today.

Photo from Unsplash by Aad van der Klaauw