EU adheres to animal welfare and a ban on long-distance transport

Despite protests from a dozen EU countries, EU Commissioner Stella Kyriakides sticks to her proposal to expand and modernize European animal welfare policy.

Eight countries are threatening to block a ban on long-term livestock transport because it threatens their exports to the Middle East and North Africa. But other EU countries, including the Netherlands, support Kyriakides. The European Parliament also advocates more and better animal welfare in many areas.

Eight EU countries, led by Portugal, argued that the starting point of the review should be to maintain exports as well as improve animal welfare. Those eight countries represent 37 percent of the EU population, so proponents are in danger of falling short of the necessary 65 percent for a qualified majority.

The note drawn up by Portugal on behalf of the French, Greek, Irish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish delegations was discussed last Monday in the Agriculture Council, and strongly opposed by several other countries. The Netherlands was reportedly the loudest opponent, and Minister Adema asked for a simple ban on live exports. 

The Netherlands and Denmark also noted that too many cases of animal suffering have shown that the transport of livestock to third countries should be avoided and that animal-friendly alternatives are needed. Afterwards, Minister Adema told Dutch reporters that meat transport would be a much better alternative.

“If science and experience tell us that certain transportation practices are detrimental to animal welfare and health, then I believe we need to find ways to change those practices. Doing nothing is not an option,” said Commissioner Kyriakides. 

Animal transport is an essential part of the review process and is a high priority. While livestock farmers are supported in the transition to new systems, the welfare of the animals must be ensured, she added.