Strasbourg/Vienna, 13 September 2023 – President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, delivered her annual State of the Union speech today and failed to mention a commitment to animal welfare pledges and reforms.
FOUR PAWS, the global animal welfare organisation, said that it was “unacceptable” and that there should be no turning back when it came to pushing forward new progressive animal welfare legislative reforms.
After three years of commitments made by the European Commission to revise the current EU rules on animal welfare, following the pledge in the Farm to Fork strategy addressing the “urgent need to improve animal welfare” von der Leyen failed to outline the Commissions' strategy for the final months of her legislative mandate.
Joe Moran, Director of European Policy Office at FOUR PAWS, said, “The silence on animal welfare was deafening. This should have been the moment of truth. Civil society has been promised action to overhaul our Union’s antiquated animal welfare rules time and time again."
“The current rules for animals in the EU are outdated, the European Commission has said so itself, as evidenced by the latest scientific evidence and societal demands. It therefore comes as a surprise after many consultations, public surveys, impact assessments and two successful European Citizens’ Initiatives."
Joe Moran, FOUR PAWS Director of European Policy Office
Only 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. While seven out of ten successful European Citizens Initiative have been dedicated to animal welfare issues.
Moran concluded, “Promises made on the back of participatory democratic tools, the calls and concerns of millions of Europeans and the ethics of animal welfare have seemingly just been discarded. It is not too late for this Commission to do the right thing and to adopt the proposals. We urge the Commission to bring forward the reforms immediately.”
State of the Union address 2023: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/speech_23_4426
The State of the Union address, also known as the State of the European Union or SOTEU, is the annual speech addressed by the President of the European Commission to the European Parliament plenary session in September. It serves to outline the main priorities and flagship initiatives for the year to come, building on the European Union's successes and achievements of the past years.
President von der Leyen’s SOTEU 2023, is the last address in this legislative mandate, ahead of the 2024 European elections.
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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