Day: May 10, 2023

170+ civil society organisations demand just alternative to toxic EU-Mercosur deal.

170+ civil society organisations demand just alternative to toxic EU-Mercosur deal

10 May 2023

Press Release

A broad coalition of civil society organisations both from South America and Europe reiterates its call to stop the EU-Mercosur deal and rejects efforts to “greenwash” it. They call on the EU and Mercosur to engage in a new relationship based on cooperation, solidarity, equality, democracy and sustainability.

The EU-Mercosur agreement is an outdated trade agreement that exemplifies the shortcomings of the EU’s trade policy agenda, say the signing organisations: t will increase deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, human rights violations, job losses, and animal suffering. 

We need a strong and reliable relationship with Mercosur. Cooperation instead of competition and solidarity instead of exploitation should be the guiding principle for EU-Mercosur relations. Instead of our relationships being shaped by the interests of transnational corporations, we need to have a model of economic and political cooperation that builds around the needs of people, public services, care work, food sovereignty and sustainability.

Theresa Kofler, Anders Handeln Austria

The EU-Mercosur agreement is unbalanced: people of Mercosur countries will foot the bill, to the sole benefit of the transnational companies that will profit in particular from the opening of public markets. Our common future should not be based on importing more natural resources from Mercosur and to export thermic cars and pesticides, including pesticides banned in the EU, but on guaranteeing a “good life for all” as the call stands for

A proposed additional protocol to the deal, circulated between EU and Mercosur governments and leaked earlier this year, only offers cosmetic, aspirational and unenforceable adjustments.

And the risks presented by the EU-Mercosur agreement cannot be restrained by the recent EU legislation on imported deforestation, explained Stephanie Ghislain, Political Affairs Manager at Eurogroup for Animals. “This is because the unconditional trade liberalisation foreseen in the EU-Mercosur agreement will further fuel intensification of animal farming, and the legislation ignores many products that contribute to deforestation, as well as other biomes that, just like the Amazon rainforest, are also destroyed by intensive agriculture”. 

For these reasons, over 170 civil society organisations from South America and Europe reject this deal and consider the attempts to save it as mere greenwashing.

The EU-Mercosur deal is in direct opposition to climate action, food sovereignty and upholding human rights and animal well-being. Therefore, we need a u-turn for EU trade policy: leaving climate destruction, human and animal rights violations behind and moving towards a sustainable and social relationship based on solidarity for all.

Leah Sullivan, European Trade Justice Coalition


Seattle to Brussels Network  is a network of development, environment, human rights, women’s and farmers’ organisations, trade unions, social movements and research institutes. The network was formed in the aftermath of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) 1999 Seattle Ministerial to challenge the corporate-driven trade agenda of the European Union and European governments. It has also developed as a response to the increasing need for European co-ordination among civil society organisations.

Regards Mark

‘Planty’ (ex Led Zepp) does his bit at the Freddie tribute concert, London.

European Parliament report misses opportunity to offer plant-based milk alternatives to EU school children.

European Parliament report misses opportunity to offer plant-based milk alternatives to EU school children

9 May 2023

Today, the European Parliament adopted its own initiative report on the school scheme for fruit, vegetables, milk and dairy products (2021/2205(INI)), but missed the opportunity to explicitly include plant-based alternatives to dairy milk.

Together with more than 30 NGO and industry representatives, Eurogroup for Animals and its members called on the Parliament to include plant-based milk alternatives. Authorising  Member States to procure plant-based dairy alternatives in EU schools would align the scheme with the Farm to Fork strategy’s ambitions and recognise the needs of children who cannot, or do not want to, consume dairy milk due to allergies or for ethical or environmental reasons. 

The EU School Scheme supports the distribution of fruit, vegetables, milk and milk products and benefits around 20 million children throughout Europe. Given that 70% of the EU’s agricultural emissions are attributed to livestock farming, the School Scheme can be a low-hanging fruit for the EU to reduce methane emissions from the food system without compromising with the health aspect of the scheme.

It’s a disappointing outcome for what should have been a logical step to make plant-based, sustainable options more accessible in schools across the EU. Now we look to the European Commission to align their policies meaningfully to ensure a smooth transition to sustainable food systems.

Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals

In spite of the missed opportunity to include plant-based drinks, the European Parliament’s report does support higher animal welfare as it encourages the uptake of organic products within the scheme, mentioning that at least 25% of the products should be organic. The report also calls on the Commission to ensure that the products comply with objective criteria for animal welfare. 

The EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy has stressed the need for a transition towards sustainable consumption patterns and the fact that a shift to a more plant-based diet will benefit public health and the environment. In addition to the environmental and health credentials of plant-based dairy alternatives, the crops used for most EU plant-based drinks are grown in the EU and their inclusion will support European farmers. The European Commission will review the School Scheme as part of the Farm to Fork Strategy and put forward a  proposal towards the second half of the year.

Eurogroup for Animals and its member organisations therefore call on the European Commission to: 

Include unsweetened, fortified plant-based dairy alternatives in its proposal and;

Ensure that all dairy milk that is distributed should follow higher animal welfare standards, i.e be organic, and contribute towards the Organic Action Plan. Dairy products from intensive, non-organic farming systems should not be subject to public funding through the school scheme. 


School scheme briefing, CIWF EFA 2023.pdf4.37 MB

Regards Mark

Brazil: Live animal exports might be banned in Brazil – setting the scene for the kind of change we want to see in Europe.

Live animal exports might be banned in Brazil – setting the scene for the kind of change we want to see in Europe

9 May 2023

A trial court in Brazil recently ruled to ban live exports, following a number of NGOs filing lawsuits against the practice based on the harm it causes to farm animals. While the decision is not yet final, this is the kind of bold move we need to see European policymakers make against live animal transport in the EU – a system within which millions of poor sentient beings suffer physically, mentally and emotionally each year.

Animals are not things. They are sentient living beings, that is, individuals who feel hunger, thirst, pain, cold, anguish, fear.

Djalma Gomes, federal judge (source).

On April 25, a potentially historic ruling was made by a trial court in Brazil to end live animal exports. This decision was made following the tireless efforts of several NGOs who, since 2017, have been campaigning to end all live animal exports from Brazil after NADA, the largest live cargo transport ship in the country, came under scrutiny for its extremely poor animal welfare conditions.

Brazil’s call for a ban should inspire the EU to look at its own Transport Regulation more closely

While this ruling will not be final until it is reviewed by a higher court (Brazil’s Third Regional Federal Court) – a process which could take years – it’s an extremely promising first step towards changing the country’s live animal export industry in a truly effective way, mirroring a recent move by New Zealand to ban live exports by sea.

Both bans also send a strong message to the rest of the world, that we hope European policymakers take note of: that the live animal export sector is filled with serious affronts to animal welfare, and needs to be addressed at a dramatic scale. Farm animals often suffer hugely on long journeys, whether travelling via land or sea, including by being:

Starved and dehydrated – as they often travel for several hours without being given food or water

Exhausted – due to the strain these journeys put on them, and the impossibility to relax. A WELFARM investigation found animals being transported from Poland to the Franco-German border were kept in their trucks for 20 hours with no breaks

Subjected to overheating – especially when they are being transported in the summer, when temperatures soar

Crammed together – which can cause injuries and further stress to these animals as they are transported, a process which is already entirely unnatural to them.

Not only do these sentient beings suffer immensely on these journeys, but the rules that are already in place to protect them through the EU’s Transport Regulation are not even being adequately enforced. Over Easter this year, our member Essere Animali together with the Italian police stopped seven trucks transporting lambs arriving from Romania, Hungary and Slovakia. Six of these were violating the EU’s transport rules, including by overcrowding the trucks, overlooking injuries to the animals and more. 

Much firmer rules and restrictions: how should Europe’s live animal transport sector be addressed?

In 2019, over 1.6 billion farmed animals were transported alive across the EU and to non-European countries. It’s clear the European Commission’s Transport Regulation needs a serious overhaul if it is to effectively improve the lives of farm animals across Europe, as our extensive white paper on the subject explores in more detail. 

Beyond creating much stricter rules for animals transported between EU countries, however, it’s important that policymakers also consider taking similar steps to Brazil and New Zealand by enacting a full ban on live animal exports to countries outside of Europe’s borders. When animals are transported to third countries, it’s much easier for the EU’s transport rules to go unfollowed. Banning live exports to non-European countries entirely would be the only way to ensure the EU’s high animal welfare standards are not being undermined elsewhere in the world.

Ideally, international instruments for animal welfare will also be developed in future to ensure that animals are protected globally, by strong and enforced regulations that have their welfare at their heart. But Europe can already inspire great change in this area – and improve the lives of billions of European farm animals – by making powerful revisions to animal legislation that prioritise their essential needs and comfort. More insights into animal welfare during transport can be obtained in our 2022 position paper.

We have our fingers crossed that change is ahead

The live animal transport sector has always been notoriously difficult to monitor, as well as one in which the welfare of animals has been easily cast aside. We’re impressed with Brazil’s recent ruling, and hope it inspires policymakers both in Europe and the rest of the world to give the sector the kind of attention it deserves. If it does, the future will look a lot brighter for billions of farm animals.

Regards Mark