One of the key aims of ERF is to alleviate the suffering of equines being transported to slaughter. Whilst we ourselves do not eat horse meat, we understand that many Europeans do, just as many Europeans eat pork, beef or chicken meat. We do not believe that attempts to stop the practice of eating horse meat are beneficial – consumption is falling year on year and attempts to stop cultural activities often result in backlashes that increase the practice. For us, the more important goals are
- to ensure that all animals transported to slaughter are transported humanely within the current regulations
- that all slaughter is carried out as close to source as possible (to prevent unnecessary transportation) and
- that all slaughter is carried out humanely within the current regulatory requirements.
Alongside this, we will campaign to tighten the regulations and their enforcement, whilst continuing to watch the steady decline in horse meat consumption as the expense of meeting the regulations pushes up the price of horse meat.
(Note: whilst we talk about “horse meat”, in Europe donkeys are also used for meat but for the sake of ease of writing, we are bundling all equine meat into the terminology horse meat).
Collecting Evidence & Enforcing Regulations
Historically, equines have been transported from Spain through France and into Italy for slaughter, motivated by the desire from Italian horsemeat buyers to have ‘fresh’ meat. With the opening of the Eastern European countries with their supplies of cheap equines (as they move from horse/donkey power into the mechanical era), the traditional routes have started to look less profitable although they do still exist. By visiting key equine markets and tracking lorries, ERF are able to provide evidence of the trade across France today to the enforcing authorities. The current regulations in force are the Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 of 22 December 2004 and infractions of these regulations are reported to National enforcement authorities, the EU Commission and the individuals responsible.
ERF also work in conjunction with other national and international organisations to monitor and enforce the regulations. By working collaboratively, we can make our limited resources stretch much further and achieve our aims – to ensure that all equines are transported in compliance with the current regulations.
Campaigning for Change
In late 2009, here in Europe we had the opportunity to review the transportation laws through the EU Parliament via the approval of the Written Declaration 0054/2009. To initiate the review, the Declaration required 51% of MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) to sign the petition. Whilst the UK was relatively well documented via the communications from the World Horse Welfare, other countries were noticeably absent in their support, particularly France and Germany. By creating a blog dedicated to informing the public which MEPs had signed and which hadn’t, ERF were able to mobilise the many horse lovers in these countries to ensure that the necessary 51% was achieved overall, with 405 out of a total of 736 MEPs finally signed the declaration by its deadline of Jan 31st 2010.
We work alongside other campaigning organisations such as the World Horse Welfare to maximise the impact we have.