In a historic first for the European Union, the Commission is now requested to initiate new legislation with minimum standards for the protection of some 330 million rabbits farmed yearly in the EU following Tuesday's vote in the European Parliament.

The vote came following a recommendation in the form of a plenary amendment submitted by the GUE NGL Rapporteur Stefan Eck, and the German MEP has described today as “a good day for animal and consumer protection in the European Union”.

Contrary to species-specific legally-binding rules already in force for pigs, calves, laying hens and broiler chickens, there is no species-specific legislation for rabbits in the EU. 

This request therefore has the potential to dramatically improve the living and slaughter conditions of farmed rabbits should the European Commission decide to translate it into a real legislative proposal to be submitted to the Parliament and to the agriculture ministers of the EU Member States.

Speaking after the vote, Eck commented:

“Today, the European Parliament rewrote history. It proved that it can make a difference by listening to the voice of the people and act independently of the powerful industry lobbyists.”

“By voting in favour of EU-specific legislation for farmed rabbits, the majority of the European Parliament has decided to take animal welfare and food safety seriously and to call on the Commission to close the existing legal loophole.” 

“MEPs have taken a huge step in the path to higher standards in animal welfare for hundreds of millions of animals. Now let´s hope that the Commission will respond promptly to its mandate. I really hope they don’t ignore our call.”

Meanwhile, GUE/NGL’s Anja Hazekamp, member of the Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, offered Eck her congratulations following the adoption of his proposal:

“Farm rabbits are kept in atrocious conditions across the EU: they are locked up in cages which are far too small and cause injuries to their paws.”

“On average, 25 per cent of farm rabbits do not survive these battery cages.”

“For chickens, an EU-wide prohibition on battery cages is already in place. I am delighted that finally we are moving forwards to getting legislation that will put an end to the suffering of farm rabbits as well,” surmised the Dutch MEP.

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