EU Elections: time to stand up for animals

The past political term held much hope and delivered even bigger disappointments, but the next one can be different for animals

By Reineke Hameleers

Reineke Hameleers is the CEO of Eurogroup for Animals.

17 May 2024

The 2024 European Parliament election is approaching. It will be the first election since Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Much has changed since we were last called to vote for the European Parliament. Many certainties have crumbled and we are far less serene as a society than we used to be. In times like these, it is easy to give in to the idea that people have become cynical and lost hope in European politics.

In fact, 71% of Europeans say they are likely to vote, which is 10% higher than in 2019. They expect to see a fight against poverty and social exclusion, progress in public health, jobs and economic stability, and more defence and security. Next in line are action against climate change, democracy, and agricultural policies feature prominently.

I’m sure that if animal welfare had been an option in the survey it would have scored very high. The past term showed again that animal welfare is very close to European citizens’ hearts. The evidence could not be clearer: no less than 3 successful European Citizens’ Initiatives called on the Commission to ban fur farming, save cruelty-free cosmetics, and end the use of cages for animal production. Instead of heeding these requests, what we witnessed from the Commission were timid steps and commitments that haven’t been honoured. The situation concerning farmed animals is particularly dire. The majority of the billions of animals killed for food every year in the EU are kept at high stocking densities, in barren industrial conditions that not only deprive animals of the possibility to express normal behaviour but also pose risks to public health due to the resulting pollution and spread of disease.

animal group pledge

91% of EU citizens think protecting the welfare of farmed animals is important, and 84% think they should be better protected by the EU than they are now. The time has never been more right for EP candidates to take sides. Animal welfare is a fundamental value of the Union, enshrined in its Treaties, which can contribute to reinforcing and, when necessary, building trust in European policy-making. The outgoing European Parliament has been extremely active in putting animal welfare cause on the agenda, dealing in depth with issues as diverse as live transport, the exotic and illegal pet trade, the labelling of animal products, and the overdue revision of farmed animal welfare legislation. However, much remains to be done, and the time to take a firm stance is now.

As I was writing this editorial, over 500 candidates for the upcoming European Elections had taken our “Vote for Animals” pledge, thus committing to work in favour of better animal welfare legislation during the next legislature. We need many more candidates to sign this pledge and show their potential voters that they are willing to do whatever is in their power to advance the animal cause for the coming 5 years.

The past political term held much hope and delivered even bigger disappointments, but the next one can, and should, be different for animals. We know that citizens will vote with their hearts on this matter. We hope that MEP candidates will join them.


Scan the QR code or click here to sign the pledge.

In partnership with

eurogroup for animals logo

This article was produced in partnership with Eurogroup for animals.