John asks MEPs to end bullfighting subsidies

The 'Save the Bulls' orange handkerchief, logo of the European Greens' campaign against bullfighting.John has written to Scotland’s six MEPs, asking them to back an amendment from the Greens/EFA group (of which the Green Party and the SNP are both members) which opposes the use of European Union money to subsidise the rearing of bulls to be killed in bullfights.

John wrote to all six MEPs, though the SNP’s Alyn Smith has already taken the initiative on the issue, raising a petition of 12,000 names against bullfighting. On his website, Alyn said: “it is unacceptable to have public money boost the coffers of people who rear cattle just so they can be tortured to death.”

John wrote:

Dear Alyn Smith, Ian Hudghton, Catherine Stihler, David Martin, Ian Duncan and David Coburn,

This afternoon, you will be debating and voting on the European Union budget for 2015. You will take many decisions of great importance for the people of Europe, but I’d like to draw your attention to one particular amendment.

Several constituents of mine have contacted me to ask you to vote in favour of Amendment 12, proposed by the Greens/EFA group, which opposes the use of European funds to support the deeply cruel bullfighting industry.

The amendment reads:

45e. Believes that neither CAP appropriations nor any other appropriations from the budget should be used for financing lethal bullfighting activities; recalls that such funding is a clear violation of the European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes (Council Directive 98/58/EC);

As one of your constituents myself, I also make this representation on my own behalf. Like many Scots and many across Europe, I am appalled by the prolonged and agonising deaths inflicted upon tens of thousands of bulls per year in the name of entertainment. Opposition is by no means only an ‘outsider’ position: an Ipsos survey last year found that 76% of Spanish people oppose the use of public money – such as the EU budget – to subsidise bullfighting.

It is estimated that farmers who breed bulls for the ring currently receive Common Agricultural Policy payments totalling £110 million per year. That means approximately £13.5 million in subsidy from the UK, despite bullfighting being a criminal offence in this country.

I am certain you all agree with me that it is abhorrent that animals are still tortured to death for public entertainment. While it is possible that you will take a variety of views on whether it is the place of the European Union actively to intervene, I hope that you will also agree with me that, at the very least, public subsidies for such bloodsports have no place in a European Common Agricultural Policy intended to support the production of food and the stewardship of the environment.

Kind regards,


Find out more about the European Greens’ campaign against bullfighting by clicking here.

UPDATE: Conservative MEP Ian Duncan replied immediately to confirm he will be voting for the anti-bullfighting amendment. In his blog post, he says: “Much as I could never support a subsidy for tobacco farming, I cannot support Scottish taxpayers’ money going towards the rearing of bulls only for them to be slaughtered in the bullring… I will support the amendment to end the public support of breeding bulls for bullfighting.”