European Parliament decides to investigate animal transport in the EU

European Parliament decides to investigate animal transport in the EU
Credit: ECA

In a rare decision on Friday, the parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of the establishment of a committee of inquiry to investigate the alleged failure of the European Commission to act upon the evidence of serious and systematic infringements of EU regulation on animal transport within and outside EU.

The decision was taken (19 June) by a majority of 605 votes in favor to 53 against, with 31 abstentions, and follows a request presented by 183 MEPs. According to the decision, the European Commission has received about 200 reports since 2007 on breaches of the regulation.

Committees of inquiry are set up by the Parliament to investigate breaches of Union law or alleged maladministration in the application of the Union law. The committee will consist of 30 MEPs and shall submit its report within 12 months.

In a presentation of the recent Farm to Fork strategy, Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said the Commission is currently evaluating the EU Animal Welfare Strategy, including the existing rules for animal transport and slaughter. This evaluation will be concluded in 2021 and might lead to a revision of the rules.

Animal welfare organisation welcomed the Parliament’s decision. The EU needs to resolve a number of long persistent problems related to the implementation of the EU law on animal transport, including overcrowding, failure to provide the required rest stops, food and water, transport in extreme heat, transport of unfit animals and insufficient bedding.

 “The Parliament’s vote to put the atrocities of animal transport under the limelight brings hope,” says Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU. “Every year millions of farm animals are transported live on long and gruesome journeys, quite often in filthy conditions, cramped, and often trampling on each other.”

Compassion in World Farming and over 35 animal welfare NGOs across Europe protested in March against a European Commission decision to allow transport of livestock between member states and to non-EU countries during the coronavirus crisis, without regard to the problems imposed on the health and welfare of the animals.

In a special audit report on animal welfare (November 2018), the European Court of Auditors (ECA) warned against gaps in the implementation of EU animal welfare policies in the member states.  “The European Commission has been proactive in addressing stakeholders’ concerns, but we still need to close the gap between the ambitious goals and practical implementation.”

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