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Animal Transport Rules Must be Properly Enforced, Says Ag Committee

12 October 2012, at 10:01am

EU - Member states must do more to improve the welfare of animals in transit by enforcing rules, checking journey times and imposing dissuasive penalties on offenders, say Agriculture Committee MEPs.

To shorten journeys to abattoirs, the EU should also promote the use of local ones and consider an eight-hour, EU-wide limit on journey times, they add.

"Long-distance animal transport causes suffering to animals and increases costs for consumers. Unlike the Commission, we believe that animal transport requires immediate action, in particular to reduce the numbers of animals transported and transport times," said rapporteur, Janusz Wojciechowski (ECR, PL). The resolution was voted with 31 in favour, four against and three abstentions.

The numbers of animals transported within the EU grew substantially in 2005-2009, e.g. by 70 per cent, in the case of pigs. One-third of these journeys took eight hours or more.

More inspections and stricter sanctions

To remedy persistent animal welfare problems in transport, existing legislation in all EU member states must be properly and uniformly enforced, MEPs insist. More on-the-spot inspections should be carried out and national sanctions against rule-breakers should be harmonised and made far more dissuasive, they say.

Eight-hour limit insufficient

Measures to restrict the time taken to transport animals to slaughter to eight hours should be considered, but geographical and science-based exceptions for certain species must be allowed, says the committee.

However, an eight-hour journey limit would not, by itself, improve animal welfare, which often depends more on proper vehicle equipment and on the good handling of animals, MEPs say.

The committee therefore calls for science-based improvements in transport conditions, including space allowances and water conditions.

Support for local slaughterhouses

To avoid unnecessarily long-distance transport of animals, the EU should help to create short and transparent food supply chains and take measures to halt the decline of small, local abattoirs and promote local processing, MEPs say.

This resolution is a response to the Commission's assessment of existing rules, which have been in force since January 2007. In March this year, Parliament adopted a written declaration calling for an eight-hour limit on the transport of animals for slaughter and many MEPs also signed a petition to this end.