The European Parliament and Commission both recognise ENDCAP as a coalition of experts and animal welfare NGOs that specialise in the protection and welfare of wild animals in captivity. Gathering information from the EU Member States, ENDCAP advises Members of the European Parliament, including relevant Committees and Delegations, on matters concerning this genre of animals and provides information on workable solutions to help uphold their protection and welfare.
Advancing animal welfare
European politics has achieved a great deal more for the protection and welfare of animals than many individual EU Member States. Animal welfare is not a priority on the agenda of many domestic governments and most have been happy for direction from Europe. The role of the European Parliament has been integral for improving the standards and with the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Parliament is now a powerful institution with real influence. Animal welfare, like so many other issues, has been pushed to the frontline of national policy by MEP own-initiative reports, a widely accepted EC strategy; strong support from relevant Parliamentary Committees and the adoption of animal welfare as a moral obligation by Article 13 in the Lisbon Treaty.
European citizens have the task every five years to elect their representatives within the European Parliament. The next opportunity is in May 2014. Voting for MEP candidates who are compassionate towards animals will ensure a European Parliament that cares for animals, ultimately helping to ensure a Europe that cares for animals.
“There is no justification for keeping a wild animal as a pet. We are not talking about domesticated animals such as dogs or cats but animals abducted from their natural habitat and bred in captivity. Wild animals belong to the wild. Moreover, the trade in exotic animals is tied to illegal and criminal activities that endanger species and habitats. Therefore I call for an EU-ban on exotic pet trade to protect biodiversity, animal welfare and public health.”
Kriton Arsenis, S&D MEP for Greece
“Looking at the way in which so many animals are kept across Europe, it’s often hard to believe that we have an EU Zoos Directive at all. The Zoo Inquiry has exposed the scale of the deficiencies, but the positive and practical approach being taken by the Born Free Foundation and ENDCAP to work with governments and professional bodies to raise standards and promote best practice offers hope of a better future.”
Chris Davies, ALDE MEP for North West England
Members of the European Parliament are usually elected by the citizens of the EU Member States every five years. Currently 754 Members (MEPs) represent European Citizens in EU decision-making. However, when Croatia joins in July 2013, the Community will then have 28 Member States and numbers of MEPs will increase to 766, but these will be reduced to 751 MEPs (750 MEP + the President) after the elections in May 2014.
The Parliament cannot initiate legislation, but it can propose policy and regulation, and amend or veto numerous, but not all, policy areas. Importantly it has a budgetary role and therefore can question the Commission on any issue. It also has to approve the appointment of Commissioners and has a veto on the enlargement (of EU Members) process.
The Parliament has 20 Committees, which discuss legislative proposals from the Commission. Each Committee (such as that concerning the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety) consist of a select number of cross-party MEPs. A lead committee is designated according to the subject under discussion and a report on the proposal is drawn up by a rapporteur designated from the members of that Committee. Once the committee reports are finalised, they are voted on during the Plenary session (where all MEPs are present), which can influence the decisions of both the European Commission and Council of Ministers.
‘Animal-friendly’ MEPs are also members of the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals, a focal group which acts as a forum for discussing new initiatives and proposed policy, and scrutinises the performance of other EU institutions regarding their animal protection responsibilities. The Intergroup usually meets once a month during the Plenary Week in Strasbourg.
» Find out which Committees your representative MEPs belong to
The animal welfare protocol included in the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam introduced, for the first time in European law, the principal that animals are sentient beings and able to feel pain and suffering. The Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, incorporates an article on animal welfare; Article 13 states that: “In formulating and implementing the Union’s agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development and space policies, the Union and the Member States shall, since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals, while respecting the legislative or administrative provisions and customs of the Member States relating in particular to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage”.
Whilst the welfare of wild animals in captivity, a genre of animals predominately covered by the EU’s environmental policy, is not specifically included in the above Article, there is broad recognition that at least all vertebrate animals are sentient. Therefore, Member States should recognise these attributes when considering relevant EU policy and regulation.
2013 – present: Wild animals in captivity, building on previous successes, seeking to secure greater protection for these animals by specifically broadening the scope of the proposed European Framework Animal Welfare Law (as proposed within the EU Animal Welfare Strategy 2012-2015).
2011 – 2013: Wild Pets in the EU, calling for greater restrictions in the import and keeping of wild animals as pets. In 2011, the European Parliament supported a ban on the import of wild-caught species destined for the pet trade and in 2012, urged the Commission to recognise wild pets as a source of Invasive Alien Species.
2011 – 2012: EU Zoo Inquiry 2011, an evaluation on the implementation and enforcement of the EC Directive 1999/22; identifying systemic failures in the application of the legislation. In 2012, the European Parliament supported the call for a code of practice on zoo regulation, delivered by the Commission in 2013.
2009 and 2012: EU Animal Welfare Strategy, ensuring wild animals in captivity were included in the Strategy: improving the likelihood of better protection for these animals in the EU.
2008 – 2012: Europe’s Forgotten Animals, calling for the recognition of, and greater protection for wild animals in captivity in Europe. In 2012, wild animals in captivity were officially recognised by the Parliament, Council and Commission.