Brussels, 18 May 2022 – A coalition of animal welfare NGOs including FOUR PAWS, who have been fighting for an end of fur production and sales in Europe for almost 35 years, has launched the 'Fur Free Europe' ECI. The initiative aims to achieve an EU-wide ban on 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.
One million EU citizens' signatures are required for the ECI to be successful, to be gathered in at least seven countries. Then, the European Commission must respond with an official communication, and the proposal is then submitted to the European Parliament and the Council and, if adopted, it will become law.
To date, 13 Member States have totally banned or strictly regulated fur farming, some with transition periods. Ireland joined this list most recently, with legislation for a ban that was finalized in March 2022 and is expected to close all farms this year while France, Estonia and Italy decided for bans on fur farming in 2021.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, fur farming has become a matter of public health. Almost 450 mink farms in the EU reported COVID-19 outbreaks amongst their animals and about 20 million mink had to be culled to protect human health. These outbreaks urged countries like The Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, Sweden to take drastic measures and suspend or ban fur farming. NGOs and citizens have launched this ECI to call on European decision makers to prioritize the health and safety of their constituents and finally put an end to the cruel and outdated practise of fur farming.
"The ECI Fur Free Europe is a historic chance to bring about new and progressive legislation on animal welfare. I vividly encourage citizens in all 27 EU Member States to add their names and to say enough is enough. In this day and age, fur farming is needless animal torture and poses serious health risks to humans."
Tilly Metz MEP, President of the European Parliament's Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals, said.
FOUR PAWS long time frontrunner in fight against fur farming
Through the lobbying of the global animal welfare organisation, FOUR PAWS, Austria was one of the very first EU Member State to legally ban fur farms in 2005 after the government brought in the Federal Animal Welfare Act. Even as far back as 1996 the activism of FOUR PAWS was leading the way on this major issue, managing to ensure that the last fox farm was banned in Austria.
Thomas Pietsch, Head of Wild Animals in Entertainment and Textiles at FOUR PAWS, said, “Fur farming is inherently cruel, and it is widely rejected by EU citizens. Fur farming contravenes even the most basic concept of animal welfare. On fur farms animals do not live in an environment that provides choice, proper housing, or a species appropriate comfortable resting area. The conditions experienced by fur animals on farms do not promote an environment that enhances fitness but serves to protect the value of the animals.”
Josef Pfabigan, CEO of FOUR PAWS, stated at what an “immense opportunity” this was for the whole of Europe.
Pfabigan continued, “This is an incredibly special topic for us as it is the very issue that started our organisation. FOUR PAWS emerged when we opposed fur farms in Austria, almost thirty-five years ago. If we can be a part of ensuring that fur farming is illegal across the EU, then we will have come full circle. We have always believed that the majority of people wanted better and more progressive animal welfare legislation and now we are on the precipice of finally ending the cruel trade of fur farming.”
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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