European Parliament is once again trying to prevent livestock transport by sea

Pig on truck transport to factory

The European Parliament decides this week that the transport of live cattle in the EU should be further restricted. In Strasbourg, not only the recent recommendations of a special committee of inquiry, but also additional proposals are voted on.

Some MEPs are trying to achieve a complete ban on the transport of all live livestock with even stricter amendments. From 2023, journeys with cattle for slaughter may not last longer than eight hours, and not at temperatures above thirty degrees.

An exception for some transports above 35 degrees will be deleted. There must be better stopping places and cameras for inspections at the loading and unloading areas for animals. The transport of animals under 35 days of age is also prohibited. 

But the new rules do not apply to the transport of non-beef cattle, nor to transport by sea. The European Parliament wants to put an end to what it calls 'animal dragging', whereby cattle are raised in one EU country, slaughtered in other countries, and processed and packaged in yet other countries. 

MEPs from the Greens and the Party for the Animals have tabled amendments to ban transport for more than 8 hours for all livestock, not just cattle for slaughter. And that should also apply to all sea transport; at most up to 24 hours. In the ANIT committee, the vote on this was tied by 30 to 30 votes, with one abstention. There can still be a majority in the full parliament.

Irish calf exports to the EU mainland remain unaffected in a proposal for a 24-hour transport limit for livestock by sea. That would block exports to countries outside the EU.

The transport of tens of thousands of sheep from Romanian ports via the Black Sea and Bosphorus to Islamic countries in the Middle East has been controversial for many years. The shipment of calves from Spanish ports to North Africa also falls into the category 'export outside the EU'.

Many committee members want to end what they called 'animal dragging', where cattle are raised in one EU country, slaughtered in others, and processed and packaged in other countries. Why transport live animals when you can also transport their carcasses?, the ANIT committee noted last month.