Animal rights campaigners are rejoicing after the European Parliament voted on Wednesday to end EU subsidies for farmers who raise bulls to fight in a controversial bloodsport.
It is estimated that more than £100 million of EU money is used to subsidise bullfighting in Spain - about £13.5million of which comes from UK taxes.
This could all change after Members of the European Parliament voted overwhelming in favour of ending EU subsidies to farmers who specifically breed bulls for bullfights.
On Wednesday, 438 of 687 MEPs voted in favour of amending the 2016 European Union budget.
This amendment demands “Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) appropriations or any other appropriations from the budget should not be used for the financing of lethal bullfighting activities”.
The vote has been welcomed by animal rights groups.
Dr Joanna Swabe, Humane Society International's executive director, said: “Bullfighting is a cruel practice that inflicts a great amount of pain and suffering on bulls.
"While the EU cannot legislate to ban bullfighting, it can stop granting farming subsidies to bull breeders. These subsidies are indirectly helping to keep the cruel practice of bullfighting alive.
"We applaud the fact that MEPs have sent a clear signal to the European Commission that it is unacceptable for EU funds to be used to finance any part of an industry that involves the torture of sentient animals for public entertainment, even if it is indirectly.”
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Tom Southern, Head of public affairs for the League Against Cruel Sports, said that the animal welfare charity was delighted, but added that the fight to end the bloodsport had not yet been won.
Mr Southern said: “People across Europe have spoken today, and it’s a great moment. MEPs from all countries have listened to people who are saying loud and clear – bullfighting is a barbaric and medieval pastime, which has no place in modern society.
"There is no justification for public money propping it up, and we are delighted that MEPs have now voted to end the subsidy.
He added: "This vote will not end bullfighting immediately, but it represents a significant step forward. Members of the European Parliament should be very proud of this decision.”
Animal protection groups are calling on the European Commission to respond to the European Parliament’s demands and to ensure that EU subsidies are no longer granted to the bull breeders in Spain, France and Portugal who supply animals used for bullfights.
RSPCA assistant director for public affairs, David Bowles, said: “The RSPCA is strongly opposed to bullfighting. It is an inhumane and outdated practice that continues to lose support, including from those living in the countries where this takes place such as Spain, Portugal and France.
“Each year tens of thousands of bulls endure high levels of stress and then a painful death, all in the name of so-called entertainment.
“This vote underlines the public and Parliamentary support for stopping money from British taxpayers going to support bullfighting in Spain and France. "