Joint announcement: Better animal welfare during transport
Millions of animals are being transported in the EU every day. Several well-documented incidents where animals have suffered during transportation have put such transports high on the public agenda in recent years. The political level in the EU has likewise shed light on the transport of animals; e.g. with the European Parliament's establishment of the Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals during Transport.
The ministers responsible for animal welfare during transport in Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden, share the concerns of the European citizens and strongly support revising animal transport legislation in the EU. With the Farm to Fork Strategy, the European Commission rightly states that an update of the EU's animal welfare legislation is needed. The Commission is expected to put forward a proposal by the end of 2023.
On June 7 2022, a position paper from the aforementioned countries was sent to the European Commission. In the position paper, the ministers have listed the key issues, which are found to be central in the revision of the legislation. These include journey time, definition of “economic activity”, destination outside of the European Union, distance to ceilings (decks) and requirements for watering and feeding intervals. In addition, important issues such as transport in extreme temperatures are included.
Today, the Danish minister for agriculture Rasmus Prehn on behalf of all the countries presented a position paper during the meeting of the European Council (Agriculture and Fisheries).
The position paper from the countries on animal welfare during transport follows another position paper on a new EU legislative frame for animal welfare focusing on the keeping of animals, which was sent to the Commission in September 2021.
Rasmus Prehn, minister of food, agriculture and fisheries of Denmark:
"Better animal welfare during transportation is a top priority. The current EU animal welfare legislation is outdated and I am therefore happy that the Commission has promised a revision by the end of 2023. Hopefully, this position paper will give the Commission some food for thought."
Cem Özdemir, Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture in Germany:
"Animals are sentient beings – we can no longer accept that so many of them still suffer during long journeys. The pictures of dead and injured animals are unbearable. The European path must effectively lead to more animal welfare – and to this end, we need better common rules. It does not help any animals if national bans are circumvented by transporting animals to another member state in order to export them to third countries from there. The European Commission should take swift action now."
Anna-Caren Sätherberg, Minister for Rural Affairs of Sweden:
"It is a high priority that we address the serious animal welfare problems that are currently associated with long-distance transports of animals, both within and outside the EU. We, therefore, welcome and emphasize the need for an ambitious review of the animal welfare legislation next year."
Henk Staghouwer, Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands:
"Improving animal welfare during transport is one of my priorities. Together with likeminded Member States, we came to this position paper which highlights the main issues and gives clear proposals for improvements. We call for better conditions for the animals and I urge for a shift from moving live animals over long distances, to moving animal products and genetic material instead."
Bernard Clerfayt, Minister of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, responsible for Employment and Vocational Training, Digital Transition, Local Authorities and Animal Welfare:
"To improve animal welfare, one needs to address every stage of an animal's life. Transport is therefore also part of it. It is no longer possible to consider that animal welfare could vary depending on the country. Europe must therefore move forward swiftly on that issue and take a firm stand in favour of animals."
Céline Tellier, Walloon Minister for Environment, Nature, Forest, Rurality and Animal Welfare:
"The expectations of the public regard to animal welfare are increasing. Scientific research also demonstrates daily the sensitivity and intelligence of animals. Legislation must evolve to match these societal changes. For issues such as animal transport, we need to go further, and the EU is the right level to do so."
Ben Weyts, Vice-Minister-President of the Government of Flanders and Flemish Minister for Education, Sports, Animal Welfare and Vlaamse Rand:
"We have a damn duty to actually avoid avoidable animal suffering. A lot of European citizens are very concerned about animals who suffer during long international transports. We need better European regulation and we need it now. This is why Flanders bands together with like-minded countries to convince the European Commission to do more for animals and their welfare."
- The ministers responsible for animal welfare in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden sent a position paper on animal welfare during transportation to the European Commission on June 7 2022.
- The position paper lists key issues, which are found to be central in the coming revision of the EU's animal welfare legislation, which is expected in 2023.
- The position paper was presented during the meeting of the Council (Agriculture and Fisheries) on July 18 2022.