The brakes on livestock transport in EU countries are far from being put in practice

The new position of the European Parliament that road transport of cattle for slaughter should be limited to a maximum of eight hours is far from being a practice. It will be at least a few more years before any new legislation comes into force.

The prospects for rapid improvements are indeed not favourable, as Luxembourg MEP Tilly Metz (The Greens), the chairman of the ANIT parliamentary committee of inquiry, acknowledged last week.

However, it was satisfied with the eventual broad parliamentary support for the shocking final report and the 139 proposals for (several dozen) stricter rules, and for (many dozens) more noncommittal 'recommendations'. 

'Of course we would have wanted a lot of legally binding legislation. For example, a complete ban on animal transport. But with a maximum of eight-hour transports, we cover eighty percent of the export of cattle for slaughter (outside the EU – ed.). It is also an improvement that not only calves younger than ten days, but also other young stock are no longer allowed to be transported. And what about mandatory inspections that detain wrecked ships and trucks'. 

The now advocated non-binding recommendations should become part of new legislation ('Animal Welfare Review') that Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides wants to submit in 2023. Then the EU commissioners will have to adopt their own Commission positions on those 139 'recommendations'. After that, the 27 EU countries must do the same. It seems that the Commissioners are 'closer' to the position of the European Parliament than to the so far reluctant attitude of many LNV ministers.

However, the European Parliament cannot yet count itself rich. Kyriakides has hardly any specialized officials on her supervisory board for this major legal review, and hardly any budget. Moreover, now that the European Parliament has taken an official position, experienced EU politicians realize that ministers can use their delaying tactics.

Much will depend on how upright Kyriakides keeps her back straight. In any case, Kyriakides and Metz can expect support from Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Those three countries put their 'stop with cattle dragging' on the EU map last year.

Trilogue negotiations should then start in the course of election year 2024 between the European Parliament, the Commission and the EU Council of Ministers. And in many cases there is also a transition period that can sometimes last several years. 

Last week, at the EU agricultural council in Brussels, many LNV ministers emphasized that their country is already doing a lot to protect animal welfare during transport. They believe that the EU should first act against those countries that do nothing against the abuses. Some ministers also say that new regulations may only be introduced if they are 'based on scientific research'. In short, all 'conditions' that already predict a difficult negotiation process.

Moreover, many of the 139 'recommendations' are by no means watertight. For example, it has not yet been determined how the 'cat over' of slaughter cattle can be prevented. A trader will be able to transport the peat as 'breeding stock' within the allowed eight hours to countries on the fringes of the EU (such as Norway, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Ukraine), which can then resell it as slaughter cattle to far-away countries. countries, including weeks-long transports on overcrowded ramshackle cattle ships.

To the great dissatisfaction of the Dutch MEP Anja Hazekamp (Party for the Animals), the European Parliament has indeed approved the shocking final report on the abuses during animal transport, but in fact nothing is being done about it yet.

Hazenkamp initiated the parliamentary investigation two years ago. According to her, these are non-binding 'recommendations', which it remains to be seen whether and when they will become reality, whether or not they are further weakened. That is why she voted against…