The European Parliament has called for stricter enforcement of laws protecting the welfare of animals being transported.
In a resolution reiterating its 2012 call for uniform enforcement of animal transport welfare laws – which has been inconsistent between Member States – MEPs recommended penalties to be applied to Member States which fail to administer the laws currently in place. They further suggested the implementation of new technologies, such as geolocation systems to track the journeys of transported animals.
MEPs emphasised the need for science-based updates to current animal transport protection rules, including stricter regulations on vehicles to ensure they provide appropriate ventilation, temperature control and feeding systems. They noted that journeys for live animals should be kept as short as possible to avoid unnecessary distress and recommended the European Commission facilitate a shift from shipping live animals to only transporting the relevant parts – such as meat, carcasses or reproductive elements – where possible, in order to avoid unnecessary distress. In instances where live animals must be transported, the report suggested different journey times be mandated for different species, with specific rules for animals which are still weaning.
Rapporteur Jørn Dohrmann said: “Actors in the transport chain need to live up to their obligations, whether they are farmers, traders of animals, veterinarians, or transport companies. We have now made it clear to the Commission and the member states that they must do so, either by enforcing current rules properly or by looking into new policy tools to apply new technology and minimise transport times. This applies to non-EU countries too. As the European Court of Justice said, the EU is responsible for animals even after they have left its territory. Therefore, either those countries ensure as high a level of protection for transported animals as we do or we should ban exports of live animals to those countries.”
Eurogroup for Animals, an EU animal welfare advocacy group, released a statement welcoming the report’s recommendations. Reineke Hameleers, Director of Eurogroup for Animals, said: “The European Commission must now initiate the shift towards the trade of meat and carcasses only. At the same time, we’ll keep pressure on Member States and the Commission to make sure that animals are not transported during high temperatures or to countries where the EU Transport Regulation provisions are not respected.”