Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry into the Protection of Animals in Transport (the ANIT Committee), set up in June 2020 to investigate alleged breaches of EU rules, concluded its work on Thursday. She concluded that EU provisions in this area are not always respected in the Member States and do not fully take into account the different transport needs of animals.
MEPs collected information from citizens and NGOs on animal welfare violations during transport. These violations included lack of slack, lack of water or food supplies, shipping animals unfit for transport, overcrowding, use of inappropriate vehicles, transport in extreme temperatures and extended travel times.
The report, detailing the main conclusions of the investigation, was adopted by 30 votes in favor and one abstention.
Based on the conclusions, the deputies of the ANIT committee approved a set of draft recommendations by 24 votes to 1, with 5 abstentions. These include a call on the Commission and EU countries to step up their efforts to respect animal welfare during transport and to update EU rules.
CCTV cameras, adequate temperature and a ban on transporting very young animals
MEPs want CCTV cameras on transport vehicles, especially for loading and unloading operations, to protect operators who follow the rules. They also ask national authorities to approve animal movement plans only if the expected temperature is between 5°C and 30°C. New rules are expected to introduce temperature, humidity and ammonia recording devices in vehicles.
MEPs also call on the Commission to establish travel time limits covering all animal species and all ages, as well as a ban on the transport of very young animals under 35 days old. The transport of unweaned animals older than 35 days should be avoided and only permitted in cases where the journey takes less than two hours.
Transporting meat on live animals
MEPs call for a transition to a more efficient and ethical system, which favors the transport of semen or embryos over breeding animals, and carcasses and meat over animals transported to slaughter. They ask the Commission to urgently present, by 2023 at the latest, an action plan to support this transition, including a proposal for specific funds to minimize the socio-economic impacts of the changes to be made.
Curb the export of live animals
There is no control system in place, say MEPs, for the transport of animals to third countries. They call on Member States to inspect all consignments to third countries, with particular emphasis on animals’ access to feed and water, the functioning of drinking devices, as well as the space and headroom for animals. The export of live animals should only be allowed if it complies with European animal welfare standards.
EP rapporteur Daniel Buda (EPP, RO) said: “Animal welfare during transport is in the common interest of farmers, consumers and the whole supply chain. The decisions taken in the European Parliament must take into account the realities around us.”
“The transport of live animals is an important branch of the EU economy and important for the financial survival of our farmers. The transport of live animals both within the European Union and to third countries must continue while of course respecting the legislation and improving welfare standards.
Co-rapporteur Isabel Carvalhais (S&D, PT) added: “We want this committee to make a real difference in advocating for animal welfare during live transport. This is an ambition based on respect for the different geographical realities of the EU, for our rural communities and for the persistent differences in infrastructure development across the continent.
You can watch the press conference with the rapporteurs to conclude the work of ANIT here (December 3 at 10 a.m.).
The Plenary Assembly is due to discuss the two documents and vote on the draft recommendations during the plenary session in Strasbourg in January 2022.