The European Parliament adopted last week a report on the implementation of a council regulation on the protection of animals during transport within and outside the EU.
The Parliament stresses that transports should be forbidden to third countries that have not aligned their animal transport standards to those of EU.
“No animal should suffer during transport over long distances and under inadequate conditions, only to face brutal treatment on arrival to countries that don’t meet EU standards,” said Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU.
The British NGO, which is campaigning to improve animal welfare, told The Brussels Times that a ban would affect all countries outside the EU, such as Turkey and countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
The report deals mainly with the lack of strong and harmonised enforcement across the EU and lists a number of issues that need to be resolved within the EU, including overcrowding; insufficient headroom; failure to provide the required rest stops, food and water; inadequate ventilation and watering devices; transport in extreme heat; transport of unfit animals; transport of unweaned calves.
The systematic breach of the regulation in some Member States leads to unfair competition and an uneven playing field between operators in the different Member States, which in turn can lead to a “race to the bottom” regarding animal welfare standards during transport.
Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said in the debate in the Parliament (14 February) that the protection of animals during transport has been a priority under this Commission. That said, he admitted that it was clear that there are issues that need to be addressed, as shown in an audit report by the European Court of Auditors last year.
The auditors found among others that Member States rarely used an EU online platform for monitoring intra-EU long distances to target inspections of animal transports.
“Our interventions have had some effect, but it is clear we are not there yet. We need to continue our work, and we will,” the Commissioner promised but reminded that Member States have primary responsibility for implementing the regulation for protection of animals during transports.