The role of the EU in animal agriculture

On the 23rd of May 2019, Dutch residents of the European Union (EU) are allowed to vote representatives into the European Parliament to form EU legislation. The elections will be finished on May 26th, at which point citizens of all EU countries have had the opportunity to vote. One of the most pressing matters the EU currently faces is reaching their climate goals. Accordingly, this post serves as an introduction to the role of the EU in animal agriculture and its impact.

Current situation

On February 12th 2019, Greenpeace released a report showcasing the funding of the EU in animal agriculture. This report showed that the EU spends between €28.5bn and €32.6bn on animal agriculture annually [1]. This translates to approximately 18%-20% of the annual budget of the EU. Moreover, the report showed that approximately 71% of EU farmland is devoted to animal agriculture [2]. This includes land on which animal feed is produced.

Credit: Greenpeace

The question becomes why these numbers are relevant for voters in the upcoming European Parliament election.
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is the EU policy which formulates how taxpayers’ money is spent on agriculture [3]. The next CAP, which covers the years 2021 till 2027, is currently being negotiated between national governments and the European Parliament. The results of the upcoming election will have a considerable impact on the reform of the CAP [4].

what to vote

The ultimate goal of the EU is to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 [5]. Ideally, this goal will be reached before then. To illustrate the scope of the problem, animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than the combined exhaust from all forms of transportation [6]. Accordingly, to achieve climate neutrality in the EU as soon as possible, it is of the utmost importance that parties who focus on sustainable solutions in agriculture are elected.

Partij voor de Dieren logo

In the Netherlands, the first and foremost party which adopts sustainable solutions in agriculture is the Partij voor de Dieren (translated: Party for the Animals). Besides adopting sustainable energy solutions, the Partij voor de Dieren aims to increase animal welfare. Ultimately, they hope to achieve this by abolishing animal agriculture and increasing the availability of plant-based foods through government subsidies [7].

Other actions to take

Seeing as we live in a capitalist society, EU markets are driven by demand. Consequently, increasing the demand of plant-based products, in turn, increases their production. This is precisely how you as an individual can have an effect on animal welfare and the amount of greenhouse gas emitted within the EU. Accordingly, the takeaway message of this post is to inform people about the CAP, vote for a green party and adopt a plant-based diet.


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