Stepping Stones to Success
With no sign of action from the European Commission to address the current causes of suffering endured by horses transported long distances for slaughter in Europe, it was clear pressure was needed. A reception was held at the European Parliament to recruit MEP support; this together with public campaigner activity, resulted in a number of MEPs offering to assist with the charity’s campaign. As a result Elizabeth Lynne (UK), Sidonia Jędrzejewska (Poland), Carl Schlyter (Sweden), tabled Written Declaration 54/2009, to raise concerns about the plight of 80,000 horses needlessly transported across Europe in horrific conditions every year, with the aim of pressing the Commission into taking positive action and by amending the current transport legislation and introducing improved welfare measures.
Many Written Declarations are tabled, but few are successfully adopted due to the fact that over half the Members of the Parliament need to sign for it to be adopted. This means engaging the support of at least 369 MEP’s. This was a significant mountain for the charity to climb, in a very tight timescale (around four months start to end) and needed the support of MEPs from across Europe if it was to succeed.
A rolling-plan of action was developed including:
- Mass engagement of public support encouraging them to take action. This was undertaken utilising the web, social media, the press, campaigning materials and a developing network of supporters across the EU.
- Draft MEP letters were made available to supporters on the website in all the languages of the EU.
- A layered approach was taken, namely once a supporter was engaged and had taken the first action (eg writing to their MEP’s), they were then encouraged to help in other ways (eg getting friends and family in the UK and other Member States to write to their MEP’s). This resulted in a greater number of MEP’s being engaged by an increasing number of public supporters.
- MEP’s were asked to encourage colleagues to sign and the support of fellow animal welfare NGOs in other Member States was engaged.
- The Written Declaration received 31 pieces of press coverage in a variety of titles in a number of countries across the EU.
A milestone for World Horse Welfare’s campaign, Written Declaration 54/2009 was adopted by the European Parliament with the support of 55% of all MEP’s. It was presented to Commissioner Dalli who is responsible for the legislation impacting upon the horses transported long distances across Europe for slaughter. It was one of only four other animal welfare Written Declarations that have received this much support since July 2005 – none of which involved horse welfare..