Animal Aid

Euro Elections - 22nd May: Please vote for the animals!

Posted 13 May 2014

Animal Aid wrote to the key political parties standing at the European elections to ask for their animal protection policies. We also put to them five questions relating to animal issues affected by European laws. We asked:

  1. What is your party’s policy on the live transportation of animals?
  2. Does your party support the campaign for mandatory CCTV in all European slaughterhouses, with independent monitoring of footage?
  3. Does your party support or oppose a) the use of ‘enriched’ cages for egg-laying hens b) the use of farrowing crates for pigs c) zero grazing (where animals are almost permanently confined indoors) for dairy cows, goats and sheep?
  4. What are your party’s priorities with regards to the use of animals in laboratory research?
  5. Does your party support the use of animals in the following sports / entertainments: circuses, horse racing, dog racing, sport shooting?

The Green Party, Animal Welfare Party, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru all responded. The Conservatives, UKIP, Sinn Fein, UUP and the Democratic Unionists did not. The SNP responded on 21st May – the day before the European Election.

The Green Party

The Green Party has a long history of animal protection, and supports an end to live export from the UK and an 8-hour EU-wide limit; supports mandatory CCTV for all slaughterhouses; ‘absolutely’ opposes cages for egg-laying hens, farrowing crates for pigs and zero grazing of farmed animals; is committed to ending animal experimentation and investing in non-animal replacements, and does not support the use of animals in circuses, horse racing, dog racing or sport shooting.

There are currently two Green MEPs – Jean Lambert (London) and Keith Taylor (South East). Green candidates are standing in every region.

Animal Welfare Party

This is a new political party focused squarely on being a voice for animals in Europe. Its long-term vision is of a Europe that has ended its dependence on animals and animal products. It opposes live transportation of animals and says any transportation should not exceed two hours. It supports mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses. It opposes cages for hens, farrowing crates for pigs and zero grazing. It supports a phase-out of all animal use in laboratories, starting with an immediate ban on the harmful use of all primate species, genetic manipulation and xenotransplantation. It opposes all use of animals in sport and entertainment.

Animal Welfare Party is standing in London only.


The Labour Party’s animal welfare spokesman in the European Parliament, Brian Simpson, will be standing down but he responded to our questions. Most notably, he supports the 8 hours campaign for the transportation of animals; supports CCTV in all European slaughterhouses; opposes cages for egg-laying hens, farrowing crates for pigs and zero grazing of dairy cows. He opposes sport shooting and the use of animals in circuses. See his full email.

There are currently 13 Labour MEPs. David Martin (Scotland) says he ‘started out as an animal rights campaigner’. Find out more about them.

Labour is standing in every region.

The Liberal Democrats

The Policy Development Manager, Steve O’Neil, responded, setting out animal-related policies. The Liberal Democrats propose the establishment of an autonomous Animal Protection Commission and also support a ban on the use of most animals in circuses (with the exception of domesticated dogs and horses). The Liberal Democrats also support a ban on the production of foie gras.

Relating to our specific questions he said that: the Liberal Democrats help enforce EU laws on the minimum rest periods for live animal transportation; he did not answer whether they supported CCTV in slaughterhouses; replied that they do support enriched cages for hens; did not reply about zero grazing or farrowing crates; he said they helped deliver the ban on cosmetics testing on animals but did not set out further priorities on this issue; and in relation to animals in entertainment said that the Animal Protection Commission should be able to deal with welfare cases in horse racing, that greyhound tracks should be licensed and that ‘game’ birds should be reared ‘in humane conditions’. See his full letter.

There are currently 12 Liberal Democrats MEPs. Find out more about them.

Liberal Democrats are standing in every region.

Plaid Cymru

Jill Evans – the only Plaid Cymru MEP – has launched a campaign for a European Commissioner for Animal Welfare and her petition can be signed here. She told us that she authored a European Parliament report calling for increased investment into alternatives to help reduce and phase out animal testing; opposed EU funding for bullfighting; and supported a ban on seal products in the EU.

Relating to our specific questions, she answered that Plaid Cymru supports the 8-hour transport time limit for live animals; does not have an official party policy on CCTV in slaughterhouses; opposes enriched cages for hens, farrowing crates for pigs and zero grazing; has no national policy on animal experiments but that she supports a ban on the use of animals for household products; and that her party has no policy on the use of animals in entertainment. See her full response.

Plaid Cymru is standing in Wales.

Scottish National Party

The SNP responded saying: it wanted more regional slaughterhouses to help cut down on long distance transportation and an end to subsidies for the live export of animals; is 'open-minded' on the issue of CCTV in slaughterhouses; did not answer whether it supported or opposed enriched cages and zero grazing; supported a ban on sow stalls; wants to see the 'maximum reduction of use in animals in lab experiments which is consistent with the needs of scientific research'; and did not answer whether it supports the use of animals in circuses, horse racing, dog racing, sport shooting, although the SNP government has just opened a consultation on animals in circuses. Read their full reply.

Scottish National Party is standing in Scotland.

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