Flanders to ban unstunned slaughter in "historic" decision

From 1 January 2019, unstunned slaughter will be banned in Flanders. The parties making up the majority in Flemish Parliament have reached an agreement on the issue, which has been a hot potato for some time. The accord is in large part thanks to Piet Vanthemsche, the former chairman of the Boerenbond (Farmers' Union) who acted as a mediator.

Over the past year, Vanthemsche met representatives of the different religious communities in Belgium, including Jews and Muslims, but also other parties involved, such as the abattoirs themselves.

From 2019 all sheep and smaller animals always have to be stunned before being killed; for oxen this is not yet technically possible. "If the technology is available, use it; if not, look for a second best, which is to stun the animal immediately after cutting its throat", explains Vanthemsche.

Jews and Muslims do not necessarily agree, but their understanding for the measure has grown. "I think some groups will not be able to live with this - Jewish and some Muslim communities, red. - but I think this is a balanced and reasonable plan."

"This is historic!"

The Flemish Animal Welfare Minister Ben Weyts (N-VA) is very happy with the deal. "There is a time for talking and a time for action. That's why the people chose us, to act. I am really proud of this, with Flanders becoming a frontrunner on the international scene in the area of animal welfare. This is historic!"

The opposition parties Groen (greens) and SP.A (socialists) also give the proposal thumbs up. The majority is made up by N-VA (Flemish nationalists), CD&V (Christian democrats) and Open VLD (liberals).