Brussels/Vienna, 12 October 2023 – Today, the European Parliament held their first hearing on whether there should be an EU-wide ban on keeping and killing of animals for the sole purpose of fur production as well as a ban on placing such fur and products containing it on the EU market, following the success of the Fur Free Europe European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) which proposed these legislative changes.
The majority of MEPs signalled their support for the proposal, it was presented to the Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI), Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), and Petitions (PETI) committees in Brussels. This came following an initial meeting between the ECI organisers and the European Commission and is part of the formal procedure.
The ECI which received 1,502,319 validated signatures after being submitted to the European Commission earlier this year became only 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.
At the hearing, the organisers had the opportunity to engage with Members of the European Parliament and the European Commission’s representatives to discuss the objectives of the Initiative. The hearing also saw pre-recorded statements made by Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food safety and Věra Jourová, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Values and Transparency. Kyriakides said that “Animal welfare has and will remain a priority for me and the European Commission.”
The main presentation was led by Dr. Johan Lindsjö, veterinary expert at the Swedish Centre for Animal Welfare (SCAW), who outlined that the living conditions for animals are not suitable for the lives the animals are adapted for. “No cage systems provide sufficient space for the ethological needs for any animals needs in fur production. Supported by scientific data it can be concluded that the welfare of animals farmed for fur for animals and this practice not consistent with the Animal Welfare Directive.”
Recent Scientific studies have shown that fur farming poses high risks for future viral pandemics, which strongly urge governments to also consider the mounting evidence suggesting that “fur farming, particularly mink, be eliminated in the interest of pandemic preparedness.”
Joe Moran, Director of European Policy Office at FOUR PAWS, said, “Animal welfare and public health are inextricably interlinked. This has never been brought to light more clearly than it has with COVID-19 and the current bird flu pandemic currently causing chaos right across Europe. Fur farming must be prohibited across the entire EU. Animal welfare cannot be sacrificed in the name of fashion or a trendy accessory as well as risking further public health outbreaks that can ruin lives.
“The wheels are now in motion. The public has unequivocally supported the ban, the parliament is supportive of the ban, the only question now is, will the European Commission support its own democratic participatory tool? There should be no ifs, no buts, or maybes, fur farming has no place in a modern society or modern economy.”
Joe Moran, FOUR PAWS Director of European Policy Office
IMCO member, David Cormand MEP, spoke of not only the need to ban the trade in Europe but also the imports into the Single Market. “It's not enough to say we will stop producing fur in the EU. The EU has to be a pioneer, it has to set the standards […] We have to say we are putting a stop to these practices not just within our borders but beyond as well. There is no human society which can consider itself developed, if we continue in treating our animals this way."
Portuguese MEP and AGRI member, Francisco Guerreiro, stated that there was “no ethical justification” for fur farming in the 21st Century, or the use of Common Agriculture Policy funds to sustain the practice.
The European Commission must now give a public response to the initiative before the end of the year.
Currently, 20 Member States have already totally or partially banned fur farming on grounds of animal welfare and public health, with only last month Lithuanian President, Gitanas Nausėda, signing into law the banning of fur farms with the law will coming into full effect on the 1st January 2027.
Mink farming poses risks for future viral pandemics, Thomas P. Peacock and Wendy S. Barclay: https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2303408120
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.
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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