Over one billion animals are transported both within and outside the EU every year. Many of these animals experience extreme distress during transit. Journeys are unacceptably long, cramped and hot, and the animals are given neither food nor water. This problem is acute when it comes to transport outside the EU, where EU rules do not apply. Animals exported outside the EU are also subjected to horrific slaughter methods and suffering.
On 09 September 2020, Swedish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Peter Lundgren of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, filed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission.
MEP Lundgren asked the Commission what is its view “on the distressing long-distance transport of animals that takes place both within and outside the EU?” and “on banning the export of live animals outside the EU and exporting only meat instead?”
On 26 November, Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides responded on behalf of the European Commission.
Commissioner Kyriakides answered that “the implementation of EU legislation on the protection of animals during transport falls primarily within the responsibility of the Member States” and “the Commission oversees it through audits and regular meetings with National Contact Points for animal welfare during transport, and it assists the Member States through the development of good practices, information seminars, guides and other activities”. She also added that “the Commission’s Animal Transport Guidelines Project has developed guides to good and better practice for animals transported within Europe and to third countries”.
Commissioner Kyriakides stated that “as the Commission pointed out in its reply to Written Question E-004231/2019, ‘the Commission cannot impose a general ban on the export of live animals to non-EU countries on the basis of animal welfare violations in the third country […]”.
Further, the Commissioner clarified that “the setting of animal welfare rules in non-EU countries and their enforcement is under the competence of the respective national competent authorities” and “an export ban on live animal transports to non-EU countries would also need very careful examination under World Trade Organisation rules, which are binding upon the Union and its Member States’”.
Finally, Health and Food Safety Commissioner declared that “the Commission, however, has started the process to assess the EU animal welfare legislation, including animal welfare during transport, within the Farm to Fork Strategy, the results of which will guide our future actions in this important area”.
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