Comment: The EU must stop subsidising the torture of bulls

By Keith Taylor, MEP

As an MEP, it's my responsibility to keep my constituents informed on what's happening in Brussels. And to date, few things have caused more shock and outrage than when I tell them a portion of their tax money is being used to keep the bullfighting industry afloat. 

The European Union is currently spending about £110 million per year to support farmers who rear bulls for bullfights – in which they are tortured to death. In an investigation into the subsidies, Dr Danny Penman spoke to a campaigner who reports, "The organisers of bullfights in Spain have told me that they love the EU because they now receive enough subsidies to kill 15 or 16 animals in a fiesta rather than the traditional one or two". It's a travesty and a disgrace.

Even before entering the bullring, bulls are regularly weakened by beatings with sandbags, debilitated with laxatives, have their horns shaved down, and have petroleum jelly rubbed into their eyes in order to blur their vision.

Obviously, this tips the scales of an already unfair "fight" massively in the matador's favour. Each bull used in a fight is stabbed over and over by a dozen people who dart around him with spears before the "brave" matador finally turns up and attempts to sever the exhausted animal's spine with a dagger.

Sometimes, the bull will drown in his own blood before the dagger comes into play – other times, he will still be alive as his mutilated, bleeding body is dragged out of the arena.

Britain is a nation of animal lovers, who among us would not be horrified to learn that their tax money is used to support this type of abuse?

The 2013 report "Toros & Taxes", compiled by Spanish MEPs, concluded that "[w]ithout such backing [bullfighting] would probably be on the brink of financial collapse". Good riddance, I say. The current subsidies run completely contrary to the bold, positive steps laid out in the European Commission's Animal Welfare Action Plan.

Bullfighting should have been relegated to the history books a long time ago. There is no traditionalist excuse that can justify the torture, mutilation and slaughter of sensitive animals in the name of entertainment.

This year alone, tens of thousands of bulls will be killed in Spanish bullfights. But thankfully, there's a light at the end of this dark tunnel. MEP Bas Eickhout, on behalf of the Greens/EFA group, has tabled an amendment to the EU budget which would prevent subsidies from being used to support the bullfighting industry and it will be voted on by MEPs in the plenary session of the European Parliament on 28 October.

I'll be voting in favour of the amendment, and I urge all my colleagues to do the same. Members of the public can also contact their MEPs via PETA’s website here.

It's 2015, surely we've evolved to the point of demanding that cruel spectacles of animal abuse should be stopped for good.

Keith Taylor is Green MEP for South East England.

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