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Reality Check: Does the EU subsidise Spanish bullfighting?
The claim: £110m a year of EU agricultural subsidies go to fund Spanish bullfighting.
Reality check verdict: The EU does not give any agricultural money specifically for bullfighting, but that doesn’t mean that no EU money reaches the industry. There are no official estimates for how much.
Uxbridge MP Boris Johnson popped up on BBC Breakfast last week to say that more money could be spent on science and the NHS, instead of Greek tobacco or bullfighting, if the UK left the EU.
“£110m a year of CAP money goes on Spanish bullfighting for heaven’s sake,” the former Mayor of London said.
A 2013 report by Green MEPs on bullfighting in Spain found that around €130m (£103m) a year from EU funds was being used to subsidise the industry. The report itself notes that “facts and figures about bullfighting are hard to obtain” and “lines of funding are difficult to track”.
Spanish farmers receive direct payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to subsidise food production and support sustainable practices.
Payments to farmers are granted per eligible hectare of land, rather than on what and how much they produce.
The European Commission told BBC News: “To say that some Spanish farmers are receiving payments specifically for breeding fighting bulls or that the EU is somehow pro-bullfighting is disingenuous.”
But the EU has no legal power to stop Spanish farmers raising and selling bulls for bullfighting using CAP money – it’s a matter for Spanish national law.
In October 2015, MEPs voted for an amendment to the EU budget, which called for agricultural payments not to be made to land being used for the rearing of bulls for bullfighting.
While the MEPs’ amendment was included in the EU budget (you’ll have to scroll to page 635), there was a footnote to it.
The footnote says that this decision is “not executable” because it “modifies the legal provisions of the CAP”, so it sounds like although MEPs tried to prevent money being spent on bullfighting, nothing will change unless the CAP is changed first.
Note: An earlier version of this story said that the vote by MEPs would prevent CAP money getting to farmers rearing animals for bullfighting. This version has been amended to make clear that the MEPs’ vote by itself does not stop this happening.
28 October 2015
EU cuts subsidies that support Spanish bullfighting
European Parliament votes to stop EU agricultural subsidies being used to support bullfighting in Spain in latest blow to traditional activity