Animals should no longer be transported from Europe to countries outside the European Union when there is no guarantee that they are treated properly. A majority of the European Parliament (EP) voted in favour of this last week. The EP also wants journey times for live transport, currently still allowed to last days to weeks, reduced to a maximum of eight hours. In addition, Parliament is pushing for reinforced control of compliance with EU regulations. The proposals, partly on the Party for the Animals’ initiative, are the result of serious and structural abuses in animal transport in and from Europe.
Protest against animal transport in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, by Dutch Party for the Animals and its sister parties from ten different European countries
Party for the Animals MEP Anja Hazekamp has fought hard to restrict animal transport and she is pleased to see that the European Parliament has now taken a clear position in favour of reduced journey times and against animal transport to distant countries.
Last Summer, Hazekamp travelled to Croatia and Slovenia to inspect the animal transports to so-called ‘third countries’, where she saw the many abuses with her own eyes: “Animal transports to countries outside the EU are the longest and the most horrible. After having travelled for days in Europe, animals are transhipped – often in a violent manner and in extreme heat – onto ships destined for places far beyond the borders of the EU. Once they have crossed the EU border, there is no control whatsoever regarding the animals’ welfare. The things that are happening then, are animal cruelty of the highest order.”
Hazekamp stresses that these uncontrolled animal transports are in breach with EU law. “The European Court has determined that animals should be protected in line with European regulations during the duration of the journey. However, as there is no way to guarantee that these regulations are met, a total ban on transports to countries outside the EU is much needed.”
There are also many problems with animal transports within the EU itself. Animal protection organisations have provided the European Commission with as many as 200 detailed reports since 2007, stating how animals are loaded onto overcrowded trucks, often not even able to stand upright, and transported in extreme temperatures. The reports also contain evidence of the transport of sick and wounded animals and of a lack of water.
The European Parliament wants stricter controls and tougher penalties for transporters breaching the rules, for example by confiscating their vehicles. “These are hopeful suggestions. Now it is very important that the problems in animal transport are addressed in practice, not just on paper.”
Campaigning in European Parliament
Prior to the vote on animal transport, the Party for the Animals organised a number of protests on the square in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. They were joined by members of parties for the animals from eleven different EU countries. The parties’ representatives each gave a speech encouraging European Parliamentarians to use their voice in Parliament to help the animals.
Leader of the UK’s Animal Welfare Party Vanessa Hudson could not believe that MEPs still needed convincing to vote against animal transport:
“What a shame that people like us need to travel from across Europe to stand here to get the message to MEPs across that it’s not acceptable to think of animals as freight. It’s not acceptable for babies – as young as two weeks old, unweaned, unable to regulate body temperature – to be loaded onto trucks, to take journeys lasting up to 70 hours in some cases. It’s an absolute stain on our conscious that such activities have happened on our watch. And no doubt history will judge us harshly for allowing this to happen. But what a chance today. What a chance to finally say: enough is enough. It’s time to show moral leadership. It’s time to stop this injustice. It’s time to stop animal transport.”