From ending the use of great apes in animal testing, to banning battery caged hens and sow stalls that restrict movement, the EU has done a lot to improve the quality of life for many animals.
The EU banned the sale of cosmetic products which have been tested on animals, and implemented strict rules to ensure animals have regular rest, food and drink when being transported.
As a result, the EU has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world. It is at the forefront of global efforts tackling wildlife crime, with Europol supporting the world’s largest international operation against wildlife crime.
Successes include, 12 tonnes of elephant ivory and 119 rhino horns being seized, over 200 arrests made, and in the UK alone 400 live tortoises seized.
As with many of the achievements of the EU however, such successes go unacknowledged.
But should the UK vote to leave the EU, these achievements in improving animal welfare could be reversed.
When it comes to animal welfare, the UK has led the way, driving up standards across Europe.
In addition to taking a tough stance on animal testing and improving living standards for animals in Europe, the EU continues to support schemes such as anti-poaching patrols and training law enforcement officials, which help prevent illegal killings of elephants globally.
Undeniably, this is something to be proud of.
But further improvements are still needed. In 2014 only 11 countries gave criminal sentences to those convicted of wildlife crimes.
Leaving the EU however, would prevent the UK for continuing to take leadership on animal welfare in Brussels. The UK would no longer sit at the table which allows them to drive change with protects hens in Europe to elephants in Africa.
In addition, a leave vote would harm the ability of the UK police to stay a step ahead of gangs who participate in the 4th largest illegal trade in the world, wildlife trafficking.
To build on the progress already achieved, and to deal with those profiting from abhorrent crimes it is important the UK work with the EU, as part of the EU, with the weight of the world’s largest economy behind them.
Brexit would throw the UK’s progress away, diminishing the UK’s ability to ensure animal standards worldwide.
By being a member of the EU we have been able to improve the welfare of animals not only in the UK but worldwide. A vote to remain would ensure we can continue to drive up standards across Europe and tackle wildlife trafficking worldwide.