Eight EU countries are trying to stop restrictions on livestock transport

Eight livestock-exporting EU countries are trying to stop a ban on livestock transports longer than eight hours. Due to their opposition, there is not yet a required qualified majority for the transport part of a new European animal welfare law. 

The eight countries (Portugal, France, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Spain) make up about 37 % of the EU population. According to the EU voting rules, new laws require a majority of countries with more than 65 % of the population.

The EU countries have long been divided over live animal exports. Germany, currently a major exporter, has therefore already decided to limit animal transports to non-EU countries by withdrawing veterinary certificates from 1 July 2023. Other countries, such as the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium and Denmark, want a EU ban. Sweden is EU chairman this six months. 

LNV minister Piet Adema says in a letter to parliament that the Netherlands is in favor of ending the long-distance transport of live animals. In a ministerial meeting next week, he will once again argue for a shift to more (gender) meat transport instead of (live) livestock transport.

The eight EU countries say they believe that the animal welfare law should be modernized, but they do not believe that livestock trade should be restricted. For example, they want to maintain the massive sheep export to the Middle East during the Ramadan period.

Any revision should take into account “the need to ensure the economic competitiveness of farms in the EU” and not aim at prohibiting or restricting certain types of transport, the protest note said. A EU ban will force importing countries to buy them from more distant suppliers.

In January last year, the European Parliament agreed to limit livestock transport, but did not pass a ban. It did vote in favor of installing CCTV cameras on livestock trucks. The ministers disagree.