EU Member States Call for a Fur Free Europe

Austria, Germany and the Netherlands led calls to support for a ban on fur farming


Brussels/Vienna, 26 June 2023 – The European Union agricultural ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday showed a clear majority of support to have an EU wide ban on fur farming.

Led by Austria, Germany and the Netherlands the support was in favor 18 to 4, with 3 abstentions.

The supportive countries highlighted the 1.5m signatures for Fur Free Europe European Citizens´ Initiative (ECI) amongst the key evidence as why to ban the cruel and outdated trade.

FOUR PAWS, the global animal welfare organisation, have called this an “important statement of intent” in what will be a significant year for animal welfare legislation in the EU, as the European Commission brings forth new proposals by the end of the year to overhaul the current set of laws and align them “with the latest scientific evidence.”

In the paper, that was tabled at the Council of the EU on agriculture and fisheries by Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands, the delegations asked the European Commission to include provisions to ban fur farming and breeding in the EU into its upcoming animal welfare legislative proposals and call on the Commission to introduce a ban on the sale and marketing of farmed fur in the Single Market.

The paper also highlighted the growing public concern about the animal welfare and public health risks brought by fur farming, especially post COVID-19, where mink farms were breeding grounds for the disease to spread.

19 Member States have already totally or partially banned or strictly regulated fur farming, sometimes with phasing-out periods. However, the lack of harmonisation in the EU undermines those very measures: fur farming can be “outsourced” with farms moving to other Member States, as a result, distorting the internal market. Moreover, it’s important not only to ban fur farming but the placement of farmed fur products on the European market, in order to ensure that fur produced under similarly cruel conditions in third countries is not sold within the EU.

Significantly, the paper comes less than two weeks after the ‘Fur Free Europe’ European Citizen’s Initiative surpassed the one million validated signatures required for a potential law change. It marked 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.

While last year a report published by The European Commission showed that 92% of the nearly 60,000 public respondents wanted stronger legislation on animal welfare.

Joe Moran, Director of European Policy Office at FOUR PAWS, said, “Today highlights the clear majority of support from EU Member States for banning fur farms. We are in the endgame, especially given the next six months to a year will be the most important for the direction of animal welfare legislation within the EU for the past twenty years. An EU-wide ban on fur farming must be at the forefront of the new legislative proposals on animal welfare, alongside a ban on placing farmed fur products on the European market.

“It is clear that the tide of public opinion turned against fur farming long ago and the ECI has only amplified this general will. EU citizens have made this one of the most successful participatory democratic exercises ever within the apparatus of the EU framework.

“The citizens have spoken. Vox populi, vox dei. They cannot be ignored.” 


Paper in full:

The Agriculture and Fisheries Council will be held on Monday 26 and Tuesday 27 June in Luxembourg. The meeting will be chaired by the Swedish Minister for Rural Affairs, Peter Kullgren.

The Council of the European Union is one of the two co-legislatures at EU level (along with the European Parliament) and is made up of EU government ministers who meet to discuss, amend and adopt laws Ministers meet in different configurations based on the policy areas under discussion.

Animal welfare – revision of EU legislation: 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, 10 weeks 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 eighteen Member States, nearly 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 European market.

Mink in a cage at a fur farm

More than 1.5 million EU citizens ask for a Fur Free Europe!

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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.

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