Welfare of transported animals must improve

welfare of transported animals
© iStock/Ben185

The Agriculture Committee has urged the EU to enforce rules protecting the welfare of transported animals and penalise offenders.

MEPs on the committee repeated the European Parliament’s call in 2012 for stronger and more unified enforcement across Member States of the 2005 EU Council regulation on the protection of animals during transport. They noted that at this stage, enforcement is inconsistent and ineffectually applied in some Member States.

In calling for more stringent enforcement of existing rules protecting transported animals, the committee suggested the European Commission impose sanctions on Member States which continue to fail to apply the rules. Member States should penalise offenders with “effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties”.

The committee put forward the possibility of increased reliance on modern technology as a solution to animal welfare breaches, such as deploying geolocation and real-time feedback loops to confirm the duration of journeys. It further recommended authorities conduct more impromptu and risk-based welfare checks on animal transport vehicles; repeat offenders lose their transport licence; and agricultural transporters develop systems to prevent recurring breaches.

MEPs further called for an updated animal welfare strategy for the 2020-2024 period, with a clear definition of the appropriate transport conditions for animals and guidelines for their assessment. They recommended any update to EU rules governing animal transport be based on applicable science, ensuring:

  • Sufficient temperature control and ventilation;
  • Appropriate feeding and drinking systems;
  • Reduced density of animals in any vehicle; and
  • Vehicles to be adapted to the specific needs of different species.

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.”

The approved text on transported animal welfare will be discussed at the European Parliament’s plenary session in February.

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