Strasbourg, France—Members of the European Parliament voted to end subsidized funding for the bullfighting industry yesterday but the majority did not get their way. Despite a majority of votes to suppress subsidized funding for the controversial blood sport, 58 of the 690 MPs present abstained, and a majority quorum was not met. 323 voted to suppress funding and 309 voted against suppression of subsidies.
In September, Bas Eickhout of the Green/European Free Alliance party authored the bill to suppress European subsidies to bull breeders and submitted it to the Environment Public Health and Food Safety Committee where it passed 29 votes to 11. The bill contained animal protection directives that prohibit public money from being used for the breeding or training of bulls destined to be tortured to death in bullfights.
“Existing European law states that these animals must not endure any pain, wound, fear or distress,” said Roger Lahana, vice-president of CRAC Europe, the leading anti-bullfighting organization in France. “It is evident that these legal conditions have not been met and the breeders are not legally eligible for direct financial aid by the PAC (politique agricole commune).”
In the weeks preceding the vote, Marika Marcuzzi, a CRAC Europe representative, directed a lobbying campaign that questioned the legitimacy and legality of the 25 member-states supporting acts of animal cruelty that are illegal in their countries. Her campaign rallied international support for a petition that reached 75,000 signatures in one week.
“The amendment against bullfighting subsidies was voted by a simple majority,” said Michèle Rivasi, vice-chair of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance. “It will be entered as public record in the resolution, so this is indeed a political victory.”
“The bullfighting amendment is a yearly returning fight. Luckily there were, thanks to all the attention, two minor improvements this year:
1. More MEPs than ever have voted in favor of the resolution.
2. The resolution that accompanies the budget now contains a clause which says that EP opposes bullfighting.
Whenever there is a possibility to make a change through a legislative procedure or court cases we’re on top of it.~ Reinhard den Toom, Policy Adviser Environment, Bas Eickhout office, Member of the European Parliament, GROENLINKS (Dutch Greens)
“Unfortunately, the absolute majority is required and the amendment was rejected,” said Roger Lahana of CRAC Europe, “which heaps a heavy responsibility on those MPs who abstained—complicit in this rejection. The good news is that now, the majority of European members of parliament are openly anti-bullfighting and the bullfight lobby just received a major smack-down. This European budget vote will certainly be the last to support bullfighting subsidies. We’ve reached a new level towards abolition—we’ve never been this close.”