Stricter European rules for long-distance livestock transport

Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development joint meeting - Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system (INI)

The European Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry into Livestock Transport has rendered a damning verdict on the way livestock is transported through EU countries. The ANIT committee also denounces the years of inadequate supervision by EU countries on such livestock transports. 

In many cases, animals were deprived of food and water, exposed to extreme temperatures, and sometimes housed in overcrowded cargo areas

The Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry questioned dozens of European agencies and officials, as well as national authorities, animal protection organisations, veterinarians, transporters and farmers. In addition, places were visited where animals are exported.

The Committee of Inquiry notes that animals are placed in precarious positions, especially during transport to countries outside the EU. "The EU does not fulfill its duty to ensure that animals are well during the entire transport from departure to destination," concludes the Commission of Inquiry.

Transport by ship is problematic: 'The majority of the 80 ships that have a European license for animal transport are very old and pose a risk to the welfare of both people and animals on board', according to the research report.

“This research confirms that rules are systematically broken. Animals are transported over long distances across Europe – and far beyond European borders. Their well-being is seriously at stake. The misconception that these are accidents and incidents has been definitively disproved," says Dutch MEP Anja Hazekamp (PvdD). She is one of the co-authors of the report.

In addition to the findings of its investigation, the ANIT inquiry committee also voted Thursday on a series of recommendations to reduce animal suffering during transport. Animals younger than five weeks, such as calves and goats, may no longer be transported. According to the committee of inquiry, old animals should no longer be put on long transports.

To prevent animals from having to deal with extreme temperatures, the committee recommends lowering the permissible maximum from 35 to 30 degrees. There should also be a red list of carriers who often break the rules. The license of these 'wrong' carriers must be revoked.

The recommendations of the committee of inquiry will be finally adopted in January in the plenary session of the European Parliament. The European Commission is currently preparing an amendment to the EU legislation to protect animals during transport.

The European Commission will present a proposal to this effect in 2023. The recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry will be included in the legislative amendment. In addition, a public consultation is currently underway, in which companies and citizens can give their opinion on European animal welfare rules.