A further obstacle removed for Government to implement outright ban.
The European Commission has officially informed the European Parliament that circus animals are the responsibility of individual member states and that there is currently no protection for circus animals under European law.
In a written answer by Mr Potocnik, the Commission stated yesterday that:“Circuses are specifically excluded from the scope of the Zoos Directive, and are not covered by any other EU legislation. Therefore, the welfare of circus animals remains the responsibility of the Member States.”
Animal Defenders International (ADI) says this declaration provides conclusive proof that there is no EU framework for protecting circus animals and that the Commission has specifically declared that the decision for a ban or implementation of welfare codes is at the discretion of individual member states.
Coalition is “incorrect, legally and factually”
Jan Creamer, ADI’s Chief Executive said: “This announcement reaffirms the Commission’s position who had already stated that banning the use of wild animals in circuses is left to the discretion of member states.
“The Government has claimed that a ban might be illegal under EU law, but the Commission have obviously been somewhat bemused by this statement and taken the opportunity to set the record straight – once and for all. It has now been made abundantly clear that the EU has no jurisdiction, and that the UK Government needs to deal with this issue alone, rather than trying to hide behind Brussels or Strasbourg.
“Once again, ministers have been found wanting and we have proved the Coalition Government to be incorrect, legally and factually. Every obstacle they have put in the way to prevent an outright ban has now been knocked down, and this situation is descending into further farce. Both the UK and Scottish Parliaments will be debating the issue of wild animals in circuses next week and this EU response will bring further pressure to bear on the Government during this critical time. “
This information follows ADI’s announcement yesterday that it has received expert legal advice stating that an outright ban on the use of wild animals in circuses would not breach the Human Rights Act or the EU Services Directive, paving the way for the Coalition Government to implement a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses without further delay.
Government told: “Stop making excuses”
ADI’s latest announcement follows their statement last week that Defra officials had indicated in 2009 that it was possible to introduce a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses under the auspices of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The week previously ADI had exposed the Government as being incorrect by uncovering that there was no Austrian legal challenge in the courts, cited by the Government as a primary reason not to ban.
Tim Phillips, ADI’s Campaigns Director said: “ADI’s recent exposé at the winter quarters of Bobby Roberts’ Super Circus, which showed the appalling abuse of Anne the elephant and Monty the camel and led to a worldwide public outcry, has provided the Government with the perfect opportunity to ban the use of wild animals in circuses.
“We have now proved conclusively that there is no Austrian legal challenge, no need for new legislation and that a ban would not breach the Human Rights Act nor the EU Services Directive. Now the Commission has entered the fray and confirmed that the decision whether or not to ban is outside of its jurisdiction, and always has been.
“The government needs to stop looking for excuses and bring in a ban. 95% of the public wants a ban, parliament wants a ban, it is therefore in the public interest to bring in a ban.”
ADI is in the process of drafting a series of legal briefings for politicians to keep the pressure up on the Government to do the right thing morally and ethically – wild animals do not belong in travelling circuses.