The EU and Europol should step up the fight against international animal rights extremists. It is utterly unacceptable that these activists broke into farms and sent threats to farmers, like we have seen in The Netherlands.
These extremists target animal farmers even though these farmers follow the EU and national laws on animal welfare. The activists demand stricter rules on animal welfare, though the EU and Dutch regulations are already among the strictest in the world.
Last week over 100 activists from several countries occupied a pig farm in Boxtel, in the South of the Netherlands. Due to the stress caused from this action, pigs trampled their piglets and gave birth prematurely. Unfortunately, it took the police several hours even to start removing the activists, of which a handful were arrested. The incident has severely affected the family of the farmer and others.
Following this incident, dozens of Dutch farmers, including myself, received threat letters, written in English and/or in Spanish.
As the international element is obvious, the Dutch Minister of Justice and Security, Mr Ferdinand Grapperhaus, and myself have agreed to work on a European approach against the increasing cross-border animal rights extremism in the EU member states.
This week the Minister presented a national action framework for the local authorities, which makes it possible to respond faster to incidents involving farms.
We cannot tolerate actions that go beyond the limits of the rule of law, such as what we have seen as last week with the occupation of a pig farm in Boxtel.
More work must be done to create shorter links between farmers and authorities, to respond faster to incidents caused by the extremists. A new framework for rapid action against these kinds of extremist incidents must be put high on the agenda of the new European Commission.
Annie SCHREIJER – PIERIK (Member of the European Parliament for CDA / EPP Group, from The Netherlands)