The Intergroup for the Welfare and Conservation of Animals has met yesterday to discuss about the set-up of the EP committee of inquiry on animal transport. Additionally, it presented the animal welfare priorities of the Bulgarian Presidency Programme.

Pascal Durand (Greens/EFA, FR) one of the initiators of the EP Inquiry on animal transport presented the procedure and the current status for the setting up of such a Committee. He stressed the importance of this initiative, highlighting that there is a strong citizen demand for higher welfare during transport that the Parliament cannot ignore. It is likely that the official request for the set-up of the Committee will be submitted to the Conference of Presidents within the next 10 days. Should it be accepted, the House can vote on it during one of the next plenary sessions.

Gabriel Paun, Director at Animals International presented the findings of recent investigations. Animals International visited EU exit points and third countries’ slaughterhouses to assess how the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling is applied and the OIE standards implemented. “After years – he said – we discovered that nothing has improved”. Mr. Paun made it clear that despite the great efforts of some individuals, the live trade dynamics are getting worse.

Despite the fact that the EU Regulation 1/2005 states “No person shall transport animals or cause animals to be transported in a way likely to cause injury or undue suffering to them “, Directorate F in its most recent audit report concluded that “The measures in place do not provide assurances that these journeys are correctly planned and carried out in line with animal welfare requirements to prevent causing unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to the animals.” York Ditfurth, Director of Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF/TSB) highlighted that enforcement of the EU Regulation 1/2005 is poor within the European Union and almost inexistent when it comes to live export. After three years from the entry into force of the legally binding ECJ ruling on this matter, still EU Regulation 1/2005 remains disregarded outside the EU. “EU Member States and the Commission – he said – do not request any information about the number of animals arriving alive, sick or injured at the place of destination in third countries”. In 2016 alone, 3 million of animals were sent to third countries and a further increase was registered in 2017. While the Commission is strongly promoting live export, no effort is being made as well as from the Member States to make this trade consistent with EU legal requirements.

The Commission is aware of these problems as showed by Manuela Giacomini, lawyer at Conte&Giacomini. In the past years Giacomini sent on behalf of AWF/TSB several letters, complaints and requests to the Commission, without obtaining significant results.

The presentations of Mr. Paun and Mr. Ditfurth showed that the infringements are systematic throughout the years and the vast majority of Member States are involved. The speakers underlined that now it is in the hands of the European Parliament to significantly improve the way animals are traded.

Animal transport is one of the priorities of the Bulgarian Presidency. Aleksandra Miteva, Head of the Animal Welfare Department at the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency, presented the Presidency’s animal welfare related programme. Miteva recognised that there is evidence that welfare during transport can be critical in Bulgaria. The Presidency will address this and a dedicated conference will be held on 24th April in Bulgaria. Chief veterinary officers (CVOs), animal health operators and other stakeholders will meet to discuss how to improve the current situation.

The presentations were followed by a lively debate. Several MEPs called for a stricter enforcement of the EU Regulation 1/2005 and for setting up an EP Inquiry on live transport.


Francesca Porta, ​Programme Officer – Farm Animals

Andreas Erler, Senior Political Adviser



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