Animal transport – The revision should be based on solid science

Following the outcome of the vote in the ANIT Committee of the European Parliament on the Draft Report and Recommendation following the 'investigation of alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application of Union law in relation to the protection of animals during transport within and outside the Union', Copa and Cogeca welcome the initiative to review the current legislation on animal transport. There is a need for a revision after 16 years since it was first approved and a science-based update may further guarantee a harmonised enforcement and implementation of the Regulation 1/2005 across the Member States. However, the result of the vote, especially on the Report, is quite disappointing and worrying for EU farmers, as most of its content is not sufficiently referenced nor backed by solid scientific evidence. This limits the room of manoeuver for further nuancing the Recommendation when voted in the Plenary in January 2022 and may end up damaging the sector, basing the outcome more on emotions rather than facts.

 

Miguel Angel Higuera, Chairman of the Working Party on Animal Welfare stated on the occasion of the vote, "Talking about animal welfare legislation in general, from the farmers' perspective; we welcome the initiative in the Farm to Fork Strategy to review the entire animal welfare legislation in a holistic manner, with a robust scientific basis. In this regard we also insist that one thing is not omitted from this Report: the fact that EU standards on animal welfare, are among the highest in the world. This should be highlighted and better conveyed to EU citizens and consumers. Transportation of live animals plays a vital role in maintaining the economic strength and social vibrancy of territories across the EU. The main production areas are in many cases located in depopulating or almost depopulated areas in the EU-27 and animal transport is an integral part of maintaining this economic activity in these areas."

 

Copa and Cogeca would recommend that the Commission asks EFSA to look into science-based adjustments in this context as a way to improve the quality of animal transport, especially when long distance. Copa-Cogeca encourages the Commission to assess long distance transport in a holistic manner, considering both the transport of animals for export and the intra-EU transport of animals. The quality of the environment in the vehicles for animal transport is very important for animal welfare, which includes factors like ventilation, temperature, ceiling height, the nature of the floor, space allowance etc.

 

As the EU has no jurisdiction in third country territories, it can only make recommendations and exchange best practices, but cannot apply our rules or force them to comply with EU standards in their territories. Therefore, Copa and Cogeca believe that it is important to continue to focus on international initiatives such as bilateral and multilateral negotiations and cooperation with the WTO, OIE and FAO, as there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure mutual understanding on animal welfare.

 

At this point in time it is not possible to replace exports of live animals with exports of semen and embryos for breeding, or carcasses for animals intended to be slaughtered as these are completely different markets which require different logistics and know-how. Therefore, focusing on animal welfare and quality of journey is key.

 

Finally, it is important to take into account the many new technological improvements available for different forms of transport which can significantly improve quality, compliance and animal welfare during the journey. Hence, Copa and Cogeca encourage the Commission to take these new technological solutions into consideration in the current revision.

 

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