In a move greeted by animal rights campaigners, the European Parliament yesterday overwhelmingly voted to prevent European Union (EU) agricultural subsidies being used to support traditional Spanish bullfighting.
The EU has never specifically funded bullfighting, but an estimated €130 million a year allocated to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget can go to the breeders of fighting bulls, reports Spanish newspaper El Pais.
Cattle subsidies are calculated by reference to the size of the area of land reported by each owner, they do not take into account the specific activity taking place.
The amendment to the 2016 budget stated that the EU’s agricultural policy “should not be used for the financing of lethal bullfighting activities” as doing so constitutes “a clear violation of the European Convention for the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes.”
Passed with the cross-party support of 438 out of 687 MEPs, the move was hailed as “a great victory” by the European Greens who have introduced similar amendments in the past without success. Their spokesman said is showed “European citizens no longer want to subsidise anything that involves killing animals.”
With 199 MEPs opposing the move and 50 abstaining, the vote divided on geographical rather than political lines. Some members of the centre-right European People’s Party Group voted against the subsidies, as did Conservative MEP Jacqueline Foster, but nine of the 14 Spanish Socialist MEPs rejected the amendment.
The amendment was deliberately worded to exclude any impact on Portugese bullfighting in which the animal is not killed, reports The Daily Telegraph. Mimi Bekhechi, the director of animal rights organisation PETA, said: “This is a hugely significant decision that could be the final nail in the coffin for Spain’s already struggling bullfighting industry.”
A study into CAP subsidies published by Spanish MEPs in 2013 – ‘Toros and Taxes’ – concluded that “without such backing, [bullfighting] would probably be on the brink of financial collapse”.
The vote in the European Parliament is only the first stage in cutting agricultural subsidies for bullfighting. The European Council, made up of the heads of state or government of EU members, must now support that decision, following which CAP regulations will have to be amended.