Source: European Parliament press release
After 18 months of investigation, MEPs call on EU countries to respect animal welfare during transport and switch to the transport of meat and not live animals.
According to MEP Isabel Carvalhais (Portugal), “animal welfare is a key issue for this institution. The transport of live animals is an inseparable part of animal welfare in the EU, which we have assessed thoroughly and with great commitment in this committee of inquiry. We need to invest in more and better solutions to reduce the need to transport live animals. However, we must bear in mind the social dimension of what we offer and how it will affect people.
MEPs want CCTV cameras on transport vehicles, especially for loading and unloading. National authorities should only authorize the transport of animals if the expected temperature is between 5°C and 30°C.
Every year, millions of live animals are transported by road, sea, rail and air within and outside the EU for slaughter, fattening or rearing. Their well-being during these journeys should be ensured by special EU rules, in force from 2005; however, this turned out not to be the case.
Parliament’s inquiry, launched in June 2020 to investigate alleged breaches of EU rules on the transport of animals, concluded that EU rules in this area are not always respected in the Member States. members and do not fully take into account the different needs of animals. The most obvious violations include lack of free space, water or food supply for transported animals, transporting animals when they are not fit for transport and overcrowding. Inappropriate vehicles are used and transport sometimes takes place in conditions of extreme temperatures and long journey times.
To remedy the situation, MEPs adopted recommendations on Thursday by 557 votes to 55 and 78 abstentions. They call on the Commission and EU countries to step up their efforts to respect animal welfare during transport, update EU rules and appoint a European Commissioner responsible for animal welfare.
Limit travel time and ensure adequate comfort
Travel time for domestic animals destined for the slaughterhouse should not exceed eight hours, say MEPs. In addition, pregnant females in the last third of gestation should not be transported for more than four hours. Unweaned calves under four weeks old should also not be transported, they say, except by herders and for a distance of less than 50 km.
MEPs want CCTV cameras on transport vehicles, especially for loading and unloading. National authorities should only approve animal movement plans if the expected temperature is between 5°C and 30°C. Temperature, humidity and ammonia levels in vehicles should be recorded, MEPs add.
Daniel Buda, MEP (Romania) stressed: “Animal welfare during transport is non-negotiable and must be respected until the animals reach their final destination. The transport of live animals must continue, both in Member States and in third countries, while respecting the highest animal welfare standards. This is important for the EU economy and for the financial survival of our farmers.”
Curb the export of live animals
There is no control system in place, criticize MEPs, for transporting animals to third countries. They call on Member States to inspect all shipments to non-EU countries, to ensure that animals are fed and hydrated, that drinking troughs are working properly and that they have enough space and of margin. The export of live animals should only be allowed if it complies with European animal welfare standards.
Transporting meat on live animals
MEPs call for a transition to a more efficient and ethical system that favors the transport of semen or embryos rather than breeding animals, and carcasses and meat rather than animals for slaughter. They ask the Commission to urgently present, by 2023 at the latest, an action plan to support this transition, including a specific fund proposal to minimize the socio-economic impacts of the changes to be made.