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Irish MEPs respond to bullfight subsidies appeal

12th March, 2003

EU bullfighting subsidies

Irish MEP, Proinsias De Rossa, has expressed his opposition to the European Union's subsidisation of bullfight-bull breeding.

Breeders of fighting bulls receive 210 Euros per male animal for up to 90 animals (a possible 18,900 Euros annually).

Responding to an ICABS appeal for the European Parliament to work toward abolishing these subsidies, Proinsias De Rossa stated: "I am totally opposed to EU funds being used for this purpose and support the campaign to remove them."

"I do have to point out that the Common Agricultural Policy is the one area that is exclusively decided by national governments through the Council," he added. "The European Parliament has only 'consultation' rights in this policy and cannot allocate or reallocate funding."

"However, the Convention on the Future of Europe, of which I am a member, is likely to recommend that this anomaly be rectified in a future EU constitution. I would strongly support this reform and believe it would pave the way for the abolition of these subsidies."

Also responding to the appeal, Gerard Collins MEP promised to: "make representations on your behalf to Commissioner Fischler."

Avril Doyle MEP responded as follows: "As a member of the Agriculture Committee in the European Parliament I will keep a very close eye on the situation as it develops."

MEPs Nuala Ahern and Patricia McKenna are consistently on record as being opposed to these subsidies and continue to make representations on this issue and other issues relating to wildlife and blood sports.

ICABS Letter Writing Appeal

Did you know that in Spain alone 70,000 bulls, cows and calves are tortured and killed in bullrings and fiestas every year? Did you know that your taxes are being used to breed fighting bulls? Each breeder of fighting bulls receives 210 Euros per male animal for up to 90 animals (a possible 18,900 Euros every year).

The European Commission is fully aware that these animals are raised for torture. However it is not considering excluding the breeders of fighting bulls from these subsidies.

Action Item:

Make your voice heard! Send a letter (either your own or the sample below) to:

Commissioner Dr. Franz Fischler:
200, Rue de la Loi
B-1049 Brussels
Fax: +32 2 29 59 225

Commissioner David Byrne:
European Commission
Directorate-General Health and Consumer Protection
Rue de la Loi 200
Wetstraat 200
B-1049 Bruxelles
Fax: +32 2 298 1499

(if you have time, please try to modify this letter or write a different one)

Dear Sir,

I do not agree that my taxes are being used to subsidize the breeders of fighting bulls. This has already been going on for too long.

It is totally unacceptable that the European Union should promote the torturing of animals.

I ask you to exclude the breeders of fighting bulls from these EU Common Agricultural Policy subsidies.

Yours faithfully,
Name/Country/Email Address

European Commission: Questions and Answers

Below are answers to questions asked by two MEPs in the UK in recent years.

by Eryl McNally (PSE) to the Commission
(12 November 1999)
Subject: Legal basis of EU subsidies for the rearing of bulls used in bullfighting

What is the Legal basis of EU subsidies for the rearing of bulls used in bullfighting?

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission (30 November 1999)

There is no specific Community aid for the rearing of fighting bulls. However, these bulls are not excluded from the system of premiums for male bovine animals set up in 1987, the legal basis of which is Council Regulation (EEC) No 805/68 of 27 June 1968 on the common organisation of the market in beef and veal(1) (Regulation as last amended by Regulation (EC) No 1633/98(2)), repealed and replaced by Council Regulation (EC) No 1254/1999 of 17 May 1999(3) with effect from 1 January 2000.

It should be pointed out that the breeders concerned earmark only a very small number of their male bovine animals for bullfights and that the use of the animals for this purpose is generally decided well after the age at which they benefited from the grant of the premium for male bovine animals.

(1) OJ L 148, 28.6.1968.
(2) OJ L 210, 28.7.1998.
(3) OJ L 160, 26.6.1999.

by Mark Watts (PSE) to the Commission
(1 September 2000)
Subject: Bullfighting

Will the Commission please confirm or deny reports that a new 5 000-seat arena to accommodate the barbaric activity of bullfighting is to be built in the Azores, with reported financial support from the European Union?

Will the Commission also comment on the Portuguese Parliament's decision on 1 June to introduce a new law that will effectively legalise lethal bullfights, for the first time in 70 years, because organisers and participants are likely to have no difficulty in paying whatever fines are levied, from the event revenues?

Answer given by Mr Byrne on behalf of the Commission (19 October 2000)

According to the information that the Commission has obtained from the national authorities, no Community financial support has been provided for the construction or upgrading of an arena in the Azores.

As far as the Commission knows, the new law adopted by the Portuguese Parliament does not legalise the death of bulls in bull-fights and continues to levy fines on those who perform such acts or organise shows of this kind.

The Commission's responsibilities towards animal protection have increased under the recent amendment of the EC Treaty(1), which includes a protocol requiring the European institutions and Member States to pay full regard to animal welfare when drawing up agriculture, transport, single market and research policies. In doing so, however, Community institutions and the Member States are required to respect the legislative and administrative provisions and customs of Member States relating in particular to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage.

Bullfighting is an example where the Community is not considered to have legal competence. This domain is therefore under the responsibility of Member States.

Sign an anti-bullfighting petition

An online petition against bull abuse is aiming to convince European Commission President, Romano Prodi, to listen to the majority of EU citizens.

The petition can be found at

Petition creator, Sandra Wijnveldt, commented: "The majority is strongly against animal torturing for entertainment but the EU still allows it to take place because Spain, France and Portugal claim these activities are 'traditions'."

"We demand that the politicians for once listen to the majority of the people," she said.

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