A delegation of Members of the European Parliament visited Bulgaria this week to discuss the implementation of current EU rules on protections of animals during transport and possible ways to improve it.
After meeting with Deputy Ministers of Agriculture, officials and Bulgaria’s veterinary experts, and visiting a Bulgaria-Turkey border crossing point at Kapitan Andreevo, the MEPs issued a statement expressing worry about the welfare of animals that pass through there.
“Despite efforts of local authorities, it is unfortunately clear, also thanks to the relentless work of animal welfare NGOs on the ground, that breaches of Regulation 2001/05 are common for journeys passing through Kapitaan Andrevo,” that statement read.
“Transport durations are often too long, and animals too young to travel safely,” they added, expressing additional concerns over “a lack of adequate water or food supply, and issues with heat stress due to the high temperatures the region experiences during the summer months.”
The delegation said they were also informed that the available resting facilities are not systematically used.
“The massive flux of live animals through the Bulgarian-Turkish border is an issue Bulgarian authorities cannot deal with alone, especially considering the fact that very few of the animals exported are actually from Bulgarian farms,” the MEPs said.
“This mission has helped us see clearer that Member States need to coordinate more and better on authorisations and controls of live animal transports and that the EU needs updated rules on the protection of these animals.“
Among the nine-member delegation was Tilly Metz (Greens, LU), Chair of the European Parliament’s committee of Inquiry on the protection of animals during transport (ANIT).
“As Chair of ANIT and head of the delegation which travelled to Bulgaria, I'm satisfied with the mission we were able to complete this week,” Metz said in a statement.
“It was interesting and fruitful mission, also thanks to the welcoming attitude and good cooperation on behalf the Bulgarian authorities. The delegation met and exchanged views with different stakeholders, including high dignitaries such as the vice-ministers for agriculture and food, but also veterinarians, and even drivers of livestock vehicles.”
They visited Kapitaan Andrevo on the second day of the mission.
It’s one of the main gateways for the export of live animals to third countries via road, seeing between 150,000 and 250,000 animals a year pass through.
The delegation was reportedly surprised to hear about a slight decrease in the numbers of animals passing through in recent years, which could be linked to an increase of export via sea in other European locations.