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NFUS Discusses Transport, Welfare with EU Officials

by 5m Editor
1 October 2010, at 11:02am

EU - NFU Scotland has met European Commission officials to encourage them to better enforce existing animal transport laws before giving consideration to new rules that could impinge on Scotland’s ability to move livestock.

At a meeting in Brussels yesterday (30 September), Vice-President Nigel Miller met with Andrea Gavinelli, head of the Animal Welfare unit at DG to discuss an NFUS paper that outlines suggestions on how to deliver better enforcement of the current regulation. It also provided an opportunity to reiterate the impact that more stringent animal transport rules would have on the Scottish livestock sector, particularly in more remote areas.

The Union also took the opportunity to discuss with Mr Gavinelli the forthcoming introduction of the Welfare of Laying Hens Directive across the EU. It is already apparent that several Member States will not be in a position to meet the directive’s introduction in January 2012. There is a need for the Commission to ensure that any illegally produced eggs within the EU do not undermine egg production in those countries where producers have invested heavily in buildings and equipment to comply.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Miller said: “We had a very open and constructive discussion with the Commission and received reassurances that the planned report on how the existing animal transport legislation is being enforced will take place before any new proposals are brought forward. That report is unlikely to be tabled until well into 2011.

“Animal transport standards in the EU are already world-leading underpinned by requirements such as competence testing, vehicle authorisations and inspections. While the UK has an excellent record on animal welfare and compliance with the rules, unacceptable failings are still occurring across mainland Europe.

“A European investigation into compliance chimes with our own position as we remain adamant that the EU must not regulate further in this area but instead concentrate on enforcing the current Regulation properly. It is a matter of making these world-leading standards work in all Member States and looking at smarter ways to enforce the rules.

“In a bid to move the debate on, we sent a working document on enforcement to Commissioner Dalli in March and took the opportunity to discuss that paper with his official, Mr Gavinelli. It outlines a pilot project to test new ways of using satellite surveillance to ensure that all EU Member States adhere to the current regulation. It also looks at the roles of third parties, such as official veterinarians operating in meat plants receiving stock that have been transported long distances, in ensuring compliance with requirements.

“To comply with the Welfare of Laying Hens Directive, due to come into force at the end of this year, Scottish farmers continue to upgrade layer accommodation at huge expense. While there are indications that certain Member States will not be fully compliant in time, Mr Gavinelli gave reassurances that the EU was rigid on its planned introduction of the directive on 1st January 2012 and that there was not consideration being given to shifting the date.

“As well as urging the Commission to have monitoring in place to deal with the potential problem of illegally produced stocks of eggs circulating internally within the EU, we repeated the need for measures to be put in place to ensure that any eggs imported into the EU also meet the higher welfare standards being demanded of all European egg producers.”