The draft new law to reform the EU’s outdated rules for the transport of live animals, published by the European Commission today (7 December), rolls back on some rules and is simply not enough to end the suffering of the millions of live EU animals transported on long journeys every year.
The Commission’s proposal includes somewhat stricter requirements on animal transport, including new provisions to reduce some journey times and limit the transport of vulnerable animals like baby calves and heavily pregnant animals.
However, we believe these changes are insufficient to prevent the suffering endured by animals during transport as they would lead to unregulated length of sea journeys, weak temperature limits, and new loopholes created by bad and missing definitions.
The scale of suffering
Just last week, along with Eurogroup for Animals, we released a new report revealing the scale of suffering caused by the EU’s trade in live animals. A data dump of suffering: the EU’s long-distance trade in farm animals exposed details of the suffering endured by around 44 million EU cattle, sheep and pigs on appalling journeys lasting up to three weeks. It also showed that inadequate and misleading official EU records are masking the extent of animal suffering.
Owen Gibbons, Regional Director of Campaigns and Advocacy, Compassion in World Farming, said: “Although the draft EU animal transport law shows some desire to improve animal protection rules, it is a missed opportunity as it’s simply not enough to end the suffering of millions of animals transported on long journeys within the EU and to non-EU countries every year. Legislators around the world are moving towards export bans – with restrictions already adopted in Germany, Luxembourg, and New Zealand, and hopefully soon in the UK and Australia.
“What’s needed is what EU citizens want – a ban on the export of live animals to non-EU countries, and much stricter rules to limit to transport times, ensure journeys are properly adjusted to take into account weather conditions, as well as ending the transport of vulnerable animals, among others.
“While we welcome efforts to improve the welfare of animals – including proposals for companion animals released today – the Commission has failed EU citizens by not delivering the comprehensive animal welfare reforms it promised. This includes a clear commitment to ban caged animal farming following a European Citizens’ Initiative, signed by 1.4 million people, which was thwarted by lobbying from the factory farming industry.”
EU citizens want better welfare
An overwhelming nine out of ten EU citizens believe it is important to protect the welfare of farmed animals. The vast majority of EU citizens – 94 per cent as consulted by the Commission in 2021 and 2022 – said they favoured ending live animal exports.
More than 900,000 citizens recently called on the EU to ban live exports through a petition we organised in partnership with, FOUR PAWS, WeMove Europe and Animals International.