Brussels/Vienna, 14 June 2023 – The Fur Free Europe European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), which aims to achieve an EU-wide ban on keeping and killing of animals for the sole purpose of fur production, has now officially surpassed the one million validated signatures that are requirement for a potential law change.
This marks the 10th successful ECI since the tool was launched in 2012. Seven out of ten successful ECIs have been dedicated to animal issues and Fur Free Europe represents the most successful ECI for animal welfare, while being the third most successful overall.
1,502,319 signatures were officially submitted to the European Commission earlier today.
Josef Pfabigan, CEO of the global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS, spoke of his steadfast belief that there was no turning back on ensuring that the demands of the ECI were now met, enforced, and enshrined into EU law.
“This is one of the most successful democratic participations we have ever seen within the framework of the European Union. The public as well as leading global voices of economy, NGOs, and scientists have sent an overwhelming message that fur farms do not belong in a modern fashion industry and modern society.
It is now for the European Commission to listen and set out a clear legislative proposal that will finally ban fur farming and make the placement of farmed fur products in the European market history. With the upcoming animal welfare legislative revisions that are currently being prepared in Brussels for later in the year this would be the ideal opportunity to end this cruel practice for good.
As an organisation, founded thirty-five years ago, FOUR PAWS was formed on the basis of banning fur farms in Austria and now the rest of the European Union is catching up to the very cause we started upon. For us at FOUR PAWS this is a historic moment and a proud day for our organisation as well as the animal welfare community up and down Europe.”
Josef Pfabigan, CEO of the global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS
The ECI organisers will now meet with the European Commission and then attend a public hearing at the European Parliament, after which the European Commission must publicly respond to the initiative, before the end of the year.
Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals, added, “The overwhelming public support to this initiative has made one thing clear: fur must become a thing of the past. We are so proud to have achieved yet another step towards ending this cruel and unnecessary practice and now we call on the European Commission to use the new animal welfare legislation to make the wish of 1.5 million European citizens come true.”
Fur Free Europe was launched in May 2022 and received the support of more than eighty organisations from all around Europe. It closed on March 1st, earlier than its official deadline, thanks to a record number of signatures collected: 1,701,892 in less than ten months. The ECI also successfully reached the signatures threshold in twenty-one Member States, three times the minimum requirement of seven Member States.
The ECI Fur Free Europe was officially registered by the European Commission on 16/03/2022 and ran from 18/05/2022 until 01/03/2023. The ECI was submitted by a group of citizens from 7 EU Member States. It aims to achieve an EU-wide ban on the keeping and killing of animals for the sole or main purpose of fur production, as well as placing farmed animal fur, and products containing such fur, on the EU market.
The European Union is one of the main regions for fur production globally. Every year millions of animals (mainly mink, foxes and raccoon dogs) are legally confined in small wire mesh cages and killed to produce unnecessary, easily replaceable fur articles. The mission is to end this cruel practice by introducing an EU-wide prohibition of fur farming.
In March this year, thirty-eight major apparel brands, including Hugo Boss, OVS and Marc Cain, have written to the European Commission to support the ECI.
Since the launch of the ECI in May 2022, FOUR PAWS has released several investigations in fur farms in Poland and Romania and has been campaigning alongside 80+ NGOs around Europe to inform citizens on the cruel reality of this outdated industry.
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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org