MEP’s, Belgian Minister for Animal Welfare Weyts, Member State and EC officials and other critical stakeholders, today attended Animals International (AI), Tierschutzbund Zurich/Animal Welfare Foundation (TSB|AWF) and Eurogroup for Animals’ compelling footage release showing breaches of European animal welfare legislation and international agreements concerning live animal transport from the EU to Turkey, the Middle East and northern Africa, as well as their slaughter.
The shocking evidence convinced MEP’s to call for an official EP inquiry into this illegal, unnecessary, immoral and barbaric treatment of animals.
AI and TSB|AWF have conducted a landmark two year investigation ending February 2017, documenting the horrific mishandling and slaughter of European livestock, including cattle and sheep, across their European journey to their final destination in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Egypt. The footage shows transport and slaughter methods that are routine for such importing countries, and that breach European regulations and international standards.
The investigation prompted AI and TSB|AWF to join forces with Eurogroup for Animals and its members from all over Europe to call on the European Commission to phase-out live animal exports, and actively encourage a transition to a carcass-only trade with importing countries.
Expressing shock over the released footage, Belgian Minister Weyts opened the event by stressing Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands’ expectation, as expressed in the joint Ministerial Declaration they co-signed, for the European Commission to ensure enforcement of the Transport Regulation but also to adjust the Regulation in terms of maximum transport times and transport conditions so as to avoid such barbaric scenes in future.
“This investigation reveals an abject failure by EU officials to monitor live animal export. Animals raised in European care are being transported in manners that are in breach of EU regulations and they are enduring horrific slaughter practices in breach of international agreements,” said Animals International EU Director, Gabriel Paun.
We have seen many petitions and resolutions, but as we have witnessed today, the situation has only deteriorated and we cannot accept this any longer.” said MEP Maria Noichl, Vice-President of the European Parliament Intergroup for the Welfare and Conservation of Animals and chairperson on the EP working group on live animal transport.
Eurogroup for Animals Director, Reineke Hameleers, stated “The European Court of Justice has ruled that the EU’s Transport Regulation also applies outside EU borders, until animals reach their final destinations. Yet this ruling is not being abided to and animals continue to be exported in horrible conditions.” In addition she said, “Not only is this illegal, it is also immoral and unnecessary as all of the cited destination countries also import lots of chilled and frozen meat. There is absolutely no excuse for putting animals through unnecessary suffering by exporting them alive.”
“Ethical and regulatory failures on animal trade start well before animals even arrive in the importing countries. Currently there is no requirement to have a vet on board livestock vessels leaving the EU, thus thousands of animals are without access to veterinary care for up to 10 days in a high risk environment,” said TSB|AWF Director, Iris Baumgärtner. She added, “All you need to think about is thousands of animals imprisoned on a ship – not conceived for animal transport – tossed around in wild seas, to understand just how wrong this trade is.”
Appalled by this new evidence demonstrating once more that the Transport Regulation is not only poorly implemented and enforced but also not fit for purpose, Intergroup Vice-president, Anja Hazekamp speaking on behalf of the Intergroup, called for an official EP inquiry into the treatment of European exported livestock. “Time is now to investigate the situation of long distance animal transport by land and sea, investigate why the ECJ’s judgment is not being implemented and hold those accountable who are neglecting their responsibilities”, said Hazekamp following the release. She was supported in her call by the event’s moderator and vice-President of the Intergroup, Jeppe Kofod who stated “I fully support Eurogroup for Animals’ call to move towards a carcass export trade only and will make sure this official inquiry will deliver clear recommendations on what’s needed to do so.”
Animals International, TSB|AWF and Eurogroup for Animals call on the European Commission and relevant exporting Member States to immediately:
1. Develop an EU strategy with effective incentives to phase out all live animal transports and replace them with carcasses and meat products.
2. Until regulations change, take all necessary steps to reduce transportation time of live animals being exported to destination countries outside the EU in accordance the binding judgment from the European Court of Justice, and the standards set by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) regarding animal slaughter conditions
3. Address what 90% of EU citizens are demanding (Eurobarometer survey) and establish animal welfare standards that are recognizable across the world and promote the standards internationally.
4. Ensure implementation and enforcement of EU Transport Regulation (EC)1/2005, in relation to both road and sea transport.
5. Ensure a government veterinarian accompanies all livestock shipments by sea.
6. Introduce a regulatory system (as is in operation in the Australian live export industry) that makes European exporters legally accountable for ensuring supply chains they provide animals to in importing countries meet international standards. This system should enable the movement of livestock to be monitored to ensure that the animals can be traced from their point of departure to slaughter.
7. Require mandatory reporting of illness/injuries and deaths on ships and the public disclosure of this information.
These new revelations should be seen in the context of Eurogroup for Animals’ #Stopthetrucks campaign where more than 750,000 European citizens have already expressed their expectation for Europe reduce, refine and replace the transport of live animals. (www.stopthetrucks.eu )
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Gabriel Paun, Animals International, EU Director
Tel. +43 (0)664 1850717 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Iris Baumgärtner AWF|TSB Director and project manager Animal Transport
Tel. +41 (0)44 482 04 91, email@example.com
Francesca Porta, Eurogroup for Animals Program Officer Farm animals
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