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European Parliament elections 2019: Animal welfare parties hope to triple number of MEPs

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Animal rights activists, covered in fake blood, at a protest in Barcelona
Animal rights activists, covered in fake blood, at a protest in Barcelona -
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Animal welfare could be set for a boost in Europe as campaigners prepare an unprecedented assault on May's elections.

They are hopeful, based on polling from across the continent, of more than tripling their presence in the European Parliament.

Currently, there is only Dutch MEP Anja Hazekamp, from Party for the Animals, and her German counterpart, Stefan Eck, who was elected as a member of the Animal Protection Party but quit the movement later in 2014.

Campaigners in Spain say for the first time up to 11 animal welfare parties from across Europe are preparing to take part in next month's vote.

They hope to have up to seven seats in Brussels and Strasbourg and push the case for better animal rights.

Silvia Barquero, president of the Spanish animal rights party PACMA, said nobody doubted it was a political issue.

"Society's sensitivity has grown and we want to take it to the European institutions, which is where most animal protection regulations are dictated," she said. "Our movement is to protect both people and animals."

The parties launched their European programme with a collective manifesto entitled: "Animal Politics EU: May we have your votes, please?"

“In more and more countries, animals are given a voice in politics, which reflects the growing resistance to the way animals are treated. Our growing international movement is consistent in protecting human as well as animal interests,” said Hazekamp.

In their manifesto, the parties have highlighted the need to give animals moral and legal status, put an end to the transport of live animals within and outside of the European Union, eliminate animal experimentation, ban hunting and the import of wild animals, among other things.

They have also called for the elimination of harmful animal husbandry practices, and have demanded the closure of all fur farms in Europe.

Among their list of demands is also a rallying cry targeted at the fisheries industry.

"But the European Commission is not acting consistently when it comes to fish welfare," said Hazekamp in an interview to European Interest in February.

"On one hand, it recognises that fishes are sentient beings, able to experience pain. But on the other hand, the commission does not take any real action to improve fish welfare.

"The commission also makes a distinction between farmed fish and fish in the wild. In my view, it is unacceptable that the EU ignores the welfare of fish only to secure the profitability of the fishing industry,"