The European Union’s Agriculture and Fisheries Council, composed of agriculture ministers from all 28 EU Member States, debated the issue of international finance institutions and animal welfare this week. The Austrian delegation’s request to make animal welfare standards a mandatory investment criterion for international financial institutions and to incorporate binding EU animal welfare standards in the IFIs' policies for investment capital grants received wide-spread support.
International financial institutions where EU Member States are major shareholders continue to support agricultural companies outside the EU irrespective of whether or not these companies meet the EU’s own farm animal welfare standards. Furthermore, government backed export credit agencies are providing insurance to companies that are exporting abusive farm animal housing systems to third countries, such as barren battery cages, even though the use of such housing systems has been prohibited within the EU.
Joanna Swabe, executive director for Humane Society International/Europe, applauded the Austrian government for raising this important issue in the Council. “We encourage Agriculture Ministers to take a strong stance against EU financial support being given to fund cruel and outdated animal housing systems elsewhere in the world. Humane Society International/Europe urges Member State governments to ensure that taxpayers money is no longer used through international finance institutions or export credit agencies to subsidise the extreme confinement of farm animals in production systems that the EU has long prohibited on the grounds of animal welfare. It is vital for governments to engage in more joined-up thinking to make sure that their international investment policy is consistent with the animal welfare policy that has been agreed and implemented throughout the entire Union.”
HSI/Europe has called on all Member States to:
- Adhere to EU farm animal welfare standards when voting on financial support measures granted to agribusiness companies through international finance institutions,
- Apply EU animal welfare standards when granting insurance through export credit agencies, and
- Actively advocate for the adoption of binding animal welfare standards, which meet or exceed EU standards, by all relevant international finance institutions.
HSI has set up a website, hsi.org/finance, with in-depth information on international finance and animal welfare, as well as up-to-date lists and descriptions of animal agriculture projects being supported by international finance institutions.
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