European Parliament limits transport of slaughter cattle to a maximum of 8 hours

The European Parliament has approved a critical investigative report into abuses in livestock transport, especially in exports to countries outside the EU. Parliament believes that there should be a maximum transport time of 8 hours, effectively ending such transports. Abuses have caused a lot of commotion in recent years.

But a majority of the European Parliament rejected three amendments (two from the Greens and one from the Party for the Animals) to further shorten transport, or to ban it altogether. The restrictions now proposed only concern the transport of livestock for slaughter, and only road and air transport. The much criticized transports with rickety seagoing ships are not included.

In addition, the plenary majority in Strasbourg weakened two of the report's recommendations regarding the transport of weaning livestock and pregnant animals. 

However, calls are made for new powers to act against transports with rickety means of transport, and EU countries must do much more with enforcement and supervision. For some MEPs, many of the 139 recommendations still go too far, and for others they do not go far enough. Chairman Tilly Metz (The Greens, Luxembourg) of the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry defended the compromise now reached. She pointed out that the ban on shipments of more than eight hours by the EU countries will make about eighty percent of the controversial sea shipments from Romanian ports impossible.

Dutch PvdA MEP Mohammed Chahim said in response: “We all know the sad story of the hundreds of cows that bobbed around at sea for months at the beginning of last year. Senseless animal suffering that can easily be prevented with clear European regulations. I want ambitious laws that state: this far, and no further. In animal transport, profit should not be allowed, but welfare should come first.”

MEP Anja Hazekamp (PvdD), on the other hand, believes that far too many exceptions are allowed. “European countries are flouting the rules and nobody is taking action against this. The EU simply does not live up to its duty to care for animals. It is a shame and a missed opportunity that the European Parliament has not made stricter recommendations," said Hazekamp, who therefore voted against the recommendations.

Bert-Jan Ruissen (SGP) abstained from voting. He believes that the EU countries should first check and enforce the current stricter rules. Moreover, he does not want to base laws and rules on emotion or feelings, but on the results of scientific research. The LTO also argued this earlier. “Unfortunately, I have to note that a number of recommendations in the resolution lack a scientific basis, which is why I abstained from the final vote,” said Ruissen.