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On 23rd June 2016, the UK will hold a referendum to decide if it will stay in or leave the European Union. Those concerned with animal rights have been fed horror stories from both sides of the argument to try and gain our vote but what is the truth of the matter – will animals be better off if we stay in the EU or choose independence?

Our guest blogger Gillian believes that for animal rights issues we should choose to stay in the EU and has provided the following information based on EU Legislation and other sources (as shown):

Farm Animal welfare improvements

Internationally the EU includes animal welfare issues in trade agreements with non-EU countries and organises major international events to promote its view on animal welfare.

ec.europa.eu/food/animals/welfare/index_en.htm

Ban on dog and cat fur since December 2008

The ban on cat and dog fur has applied in the European Union since 31 December 2008.

ec.europa.eu/food/animals/welfare/other_aspects/cat_dog_fur/index_en.htm

European pet passports 

European pet passports enable UK nationals to travel to EU countries with their pets

europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/carry/animal-plant/index_en.htm

Ban on animal testing for cosmetics

Since 2009 no testing for cosmetics purposes has been carried out in the EU

Animal testing for finished cosmetic products was banned in 2004 and for cosmetic ingredients in March 2009. Since March 2013 no cosmetics tested on animals can be marketed in the EU.

Improved conditions for laying hens and sows

In 2012 an EU ban on conventional cages for laying hens gave hens more space with a nest, perches and litter. In January 2013 it phased out the use of individual stalls. Sows are now kept in groups during pregnancy.

Major improvements in transporting animals

Rules for improving animal welfare during transport in Europe were first implemented in 1977 and were subject to major revision in 2005.

EU support to reduce illegal killing of elephants and other endangered species

EU support to reduce the illegal killing of elephants and other endangered species in developing countries financed from the 10th European Development Fund with €12.3 million and will run in the period 2014-2018. It will be implemented by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in collaboration with 31 African elephant range States, as well as in selected protected area sites in the Caribbean and Pacific regions.

UK Government reluctant to improve animal welfare

Compassion for Farming believe that there is limited appetite in UK Government or industry to improve Animal Welfare:

– UK leading opposition to proposed EU bans on cloning of farm animals and the use of clones and their descendants in EU farming or food
– UK dairy sector is rapidly industrialising – moving to zero-grazing
– UK Government and industry oppose mandatory labelling of meat and dairy products as to farming method – despite paying lip service to the importance of the market in driving Animal Welfare
– 13 years after it came into force, a proportion of UK pig farmers still breach EU law requiring provision of enrichment (e.g. straw) and prohibiting routine tail docking
 – UK, despite its claim to lead the way on Animal Welfare in Europe, is rarely in the forefront of Animal Welfare initiatives in EU
– In December 2014 Netherlands, Germany and Denmark produced a Joint Declaration call for substantial Animal Welfare improvements at EU level, the UK did not sign this.
– In November 2015 Netherlands, Germany and Denmark produced a joint document calling for a strengthening of EU law on Animal Welfare during transport including an 8 hour limit on journeys to slaughter, the UK did not sign this.
– Defra proposed 25 year plan on food and farming ignores public health, environmental impact and Animal Welfare
– EU dropped its proposed Communication on a Sustainable Food Policy when it saw that it would be hard to justify EU’s reluctance to rethink EU’s industrial approach to food and farming

Brexit would be disastrous for farm animals

“Animal rights are too important to be left to our current government, and if Brexit happens the chances are that rights for farm animals will either stagnate or be whittled away. We must speak up on animals’ behalf and stop either of these from happening.”

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/27/brexit-disastrous-britains-farm-animals-eu-laws-cruel

The EU fought cosmetic tests on animals, battery hens and elephant poaching gangs

The Independent says The EU fought cosmetic tests on animals, battery hens and elephant poaching gangs. Brexit could end that

www.independent.co.uk/voices/the-eu-banned-cosmetic-testing-on-animals-medical-tests-on-apes-and-battery-caged-hens-brexit-would-a6923081.html