New report from MEP Stefan Eck to tackle animal welfare issues in rabbit farming
The European Parliament's Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) discussed recommendations for the adoption of specific EU legislation on the protection of rabbits, for the first time ever, last week.
On the initiative of GUE/NGL MEP and Rapporteur, Stefan Eck, a working paper for a new own-initiative parliamentary report* on the protection of farm rabbits has been produced and is now going through the Committee process in the lead-up to being voted on in the Parliament.
Eck explained: “My two goals as rapporteur with this own-initiative report are: to start the discussion about rabbit farming in the EU and the method of keeping of farmed rabbits; and to encourage the Commission to come forward with legislative proposals laying down minimum standards for the protection of farm rabbits."
The German MEP set the tone for future parliamentary work by stating: “In my report, I intend to discuss the issues concerning rabbit breeding, rearing and fattening, as well as transport and slaughter. I will give recommendations on how to improve the current situation for each of these issues”.
He also underlined that “current practices in rabbit farming are in complete contrast to existing EU legislation. Farmed rabbits in the EU are systemically kept under horrible conditions in breeding and fattening farms, despite existing European legal safeguards such as the Council Directive concerning the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes (1998/58/EC) and Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
“The current housing system for farmed rabbits is to keep them in battery cages. This cannot deliver an adequate level of welfare and leads to high mortality rates. So it is time to look for alternative housing systems, and in my report I would like to give proper attention to these alternatives.”
Irish MEP, Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, also added: “As a member of the Agriculture Committee, I would be honoured to second your proposal. If people can treat a sentient being in such a disgusting manner, then it is a sad indictment of our society. We need to change this.”
The majority of AGRI shadow rapporteurs for this file endorsed the idea of adopting EU-wide minimum standards for the protection of farm rabbits last week – both for animal welfare and public health reasons.
* Own-initiative parliamentary reports are initiated by the committees of the European Parliament (as opposed to the European Commission) and contain political recommendations. Some of these reports are the starting point for future EU laws.
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