EU’s new proposed animal transport law is a missed opportunity

Animal News : EU's new proposed animal transport law is a missed opportunity
Scared calves being transported sucking on a human's hand, credit: Compassion in World Farming

The European Commission presented a proposal on Thursday aimed at improving the European Union’s outdated regulations concerning live animal transport. 

This draft law represents a small step towards improving EU animal welfare standards but falls short in too many important areas, animal welfare organizations said. The proposed law doesn’t end the suffering of animals on long transports by sea.

“While the draft law shows some limited ambition to move EU standards in the right direction…it is simply not enough to end the suffering of millions of live EU animals transported on long journeys every year,” animal welfare organization Compassion in World Farming said in a statement.

The law allows unregulated sea journey durations, sets inadequate temperature controls, and introduces new loopholes due to poor definitions. 

Revealing Report on Animal Suffering

Compassion in World Farming and Eurogroup for Animals recently published a report titled ‘A data dump of suffering: The EU’s long-distance trade in farm animals exposed.’ 

The report highlights the intense suffering of approximately 44 million EU-farmed animals on long journeys by sea. The animals are crammed on a ship for up to three weeks. The investigation also exposed misleading official EU records and weak enforcement, which hid the true extent of animal suffering.

EU’s Unfulfilled Promises on Animal Welfare

The Commission is criticized for not fulfilling its promise of extensive animal welfare improvements. This also includes a missed commitment to ban caged animal farming, a desire of 1.4 million European citizens. The European Citizens’ Initiative on caged farming was stopped due to opposition from the factory farming industry.

Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU, expressed disappointment with the draft law’s lack of ambition. She noted that some countries are moving towards banning live animal exports. In April, New Zealand banned live animal export over animal welfare concerns.

“The fact is that once animals leave New Zealand by sea, we have very limited ability to ensure their well-being before they reach their destination,” New Zealand’s agriculture minister Damien O’Connor said when he first introduced the law.

Kikou emphasized the European public’s desire for significant changes in animal welfare and urged EU legislators to improve the draft law.

Animals can’t be protected on sea

“While it is great to see a proposal on live transport, the lack of ambition this proposal entails is disappointing and set up to fail in protecting animals,” Corinna Reinisch, program lead on farm animal welfare at the animal welfare organization Four Paws, said.

“Among other things, the proposal falls short by not including a ban on live export to third countries, a practice that subjects animals to excruciatingly torturous journeys, ultimately culminating in a cruel and painful slaughter upon arrival,” Reinisch said.

“This is particularly cruel via sea routes. Past tragedies have shown again and again that animals cannot be protected when being transported on vessels,” she added.

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