Today, the European Commission published a proposal to reform the EU’s outdated rules for the transport of live animals. While the draft law shows some limited ambition to move EU standards in the right direction, it will roll back on some current rules and it is simply not enough to end the suffering of millions of live EU animals transported on long journeys every year.
Manifest lack of ambition
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, the provisions are insufficient to prevent some of the worst cruelty endured by animals during transport and would not significantly decrease suffering.
"The draft EU animal transport law shows some desire to improve EU animal protection rules, yet it manifestly lacks ambition", said Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU. "The Commission is not proposing to ban live exports, which is what other legislators have moved towards – with restrictions already adopted in Germany, Luxembourg, and New Zealand, and hopefully soon the UK and Australia will follow suit. The new rules would roll back on rules regulating the maximum length of sea journeys and temperature limits and will create new loopholes through bad and missing legal definitions."
People want meaningful change
“Europeans want meaningful change – the official EU public opinion poll released in October shows that people care deeply about the welfare of animals," Olga added. "EU legislators must raise the ambition levels of this draft law and the upcoming election results will play a key role in the final outcome of this process."
"The EU ought to deliver what people want – ban the export of live animals, and be more ambitious in limiting transport times, adjusting travel plans based on weather conditions and end the transport of vulnerable animals, among others. Above all, reducing animal transport altogether is the measure that will bring meaningful change."
Missing cage farming ban
While the draft animal transport law and another law on companion animals proposed today represent a baby step in the right direction, the Commission has failed EU citizens by not delivering the comprehensive animal welfare reforms it promised. This included a clear commitment to ban caged animal farming following a European Citizens’ Initiative, signed by 1.4 million people, which was thwarted following an attack by the factory farming industry.
Just last week, Compassion in World Farming and Eurogroup for Animals released a new report revealing the scale of suffering caused by the EU’s unnecessary trade in live animals. ‘A data dump of suffering’ exposed details of the true horror endured by around 44 million EU farmed animals on appalling journeys lasting up to three weeks. It also showed that misleading official EU records, and a lack of enforcement, are combining to mask the true scale of animal suffering.
Citizens want action
An overwhelming nine out of ten people believe it is important to protect the welfare of farmed animals. The vast majority of EU citizens – 94 percent as consulted by the Commission in 2021 and 2022 – have said they favour ending live animal exports. Recently, more than 900 000 citizens called on the EU to ban live exports through a petition by Compassion in World Farming, FOUR PAWS, WeMove Europe and Animals International.