Discussing the new Commission proposal on animal transport and the benefits of a meat and carcass trade

19 Jan 2024
Yesterday morning, the Animal Welfare Intergroup held its monthly session to discuss the new proposal for a Regulation on the protection of animals during transport, and to hear about a new research report on the benefits of a meat and carcass trade over a live animal trade.

The meeting was followed by MEPs from several Political Groups and had a large online audience.

Iris Baumgärtner, Project Manager at the Animal Welfare Foundation gave a presentation on the animal welfare NGOs’ point of view of the recently published Commission proposal for a Regulation on the protection of animals during transport.

She positively highlighted the introduction of new aspects in the Commission proposal which are lacking in the current EU legislation on animal transport. These are a 9 hours journey limit for animals destined for slaughter, updated space allowances, new  rules for  the transport of fish and for the transport of animals in containers, and a clear definition of ‘the place of departure’ with the aim of preventing the practice of “assembly centre hopping”. Welcomed are also new rules on real-time traceability, and rules to better protect cats and dogs transported in connection with an economic activity.

However, the proposal still allows the export of live animals to third countries, and the long-distance transport of live animals by sea. The proposed temperature limits remain highly questionable, and efficient enforcement measures and the harmonisation of sanctions have not been addressed in a way that would allow a significant improvement for the welfare of animals. The proposal fails to introduce measures which favour slaughter of animals locally, thus replacing transport of live animals with transport of carcasses and meat.

Iris Baumgärtner concluded that the proposal generally falls short in making significant improvements for the welfare of animals. It still permits long and extremely long journeys for animals within the EU and to third countries.

Jo White and Eva Lazar, from Human Behaviour Change for Life (HBCL) presented the new research report ‘Business case: the benefits of a carcass over a live animal trade.

The research provides a distinctive insight into the comparative costs between a meat and carcass trade and live animal transport through the development and use of innovative modelling, frameworks, case studies and evidence-based approaches. It enables the consideration of how a move from live animal export towards a meat and carcass trade could be advantageous for the agricultural sector, the environment, and wider society.

The findings show that exporting live animals is nearly 2.5 times more costly, and has nearly six times the CO2 emissions (CO2e) per kilo than transporting carcasses.

This report clearly highlights that the meat and carcass trade would save money and increase profit. It would reduce the negative impact on the environment, would align with societal views, reduce the risk of spreading disease among humans and other animal species, and would contribute to improve and protect animal welfare.

This can be food for thought for the Agriculture and the Transport Committees who are likely to be given shared competence for the legislative file, and who will have the responsibility to deliver a meaningful report. European citizens have great expectations that the European Parliament will introduce much needed improvement to the proposal.