The European Parliament has betrayed Europe’s citizens by ignoring years of public calls for a ban on exports of live animals and of vulnerable animals within the European Union in its recommendations on animal transport today.
Romana Šonková, Compassion in World Farming´s representative in Czechia, said: “These recommendations do very little to better protect animals from the often horrific, and sometimes deadly, conditions they have to endure during transport within the EU or when exported to Third countries every year. With the European Commission currently preparing a revision of all EU animal welfare legislation, the Parliament has missed a huge opportunity to bring its influence to bear in favour of better animal transport conditions that have long been called for by the public across Europe. The MEPs who voted against progress should bear the guilt of being captured by narrow vested interests that want to maintain the cruel status quo, instead of listening to the wishes of the citizens they are supposed to represent, who want real improvements.”
Farmed animals suffer during transport due to being packed closely together for often long and exhausting journeys, in weather that can be extremely hot or cold. Boiling temperatures inside the trucks, a lack of fresh air and animals having to stand in their urine and manure throughout the journey are commonplace. Inappropriate feeding and drinking devices, or difficulty in accessing them, can leave animals debilitated by hunger and thirst.
In such conditions, it is not uncommon for some animals to perish in transit, and in the worst disasters thousands die. In 2019 more than 14,000 sheep destined for export drowned when the cargo ship carrying them capsized in Romania’s Black Sea port of Midia.
Yesterday’s vote (20th January) means Parliament has failed to protect the welfare of unweaned and pregnant animals. Baby animals such as calves can still be transported from the age of 4 weeks or even younger, suffering hunger, thirst and thermal stress which heavily impacts their vulnerable immune system. Nor will any special care be given to pregnant animals, who sometimes end up giving birth in terrible conditions on board vehicles or ships.
“The EU has serious problems in terms of enforcing its animal welfare standards within its own borders, and in Third countries it has no jurisdiction,” Olga Kikou commented. “The reality is that most Third countries to which the EU exports live animals have few if any welfare standards for farmed animals, and none come close to matching those of the EU. The absence of a ban on exports will simply allow the violence perpetrated against animals abroad to continue unabated.”
Over three million live animals are exported from the EU to Third countries each year. Journeys by road and/or sea are particularly long and stressful to countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Libya and Algeria which are considered high-risk for animal welfare and where animals from Czechia also travel every year. Cases of tremendous cruelty in Third countries are reported time and again, but it is impossible for the EU to enforce its animal protection legislation beyond its borders.
- Ban live animal exports to Third countries by all transport modes and replace them with trade in meat, carcasses and genetic materials
- Adopt measures to reduce transport of live animals within the EU:
– No transport of unweaned animals;
– No transport of pregnant animals if more than 40% of the expected gestation period has already passed;
– Sea transport to be carried out only under very strict rules, always with a veterinarian present on board and with feasible contingency plans for emergencies;
– Species-specific and category-specific (e.g. lactating/non lactating, at the end of their production cycle, etc.) temperature ranges within which transport can take place;
– Introduction of absolute journey time limits of 4 hours for poultry and rabbits and 8 hours for all other species.