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ECJ: Greek government failed to enforce welfare laws

News Section Icon Published 14/09/2009

On the 10th of September the European Court of Justice ruled in a case brought by the European Commission against the Greek government that alleged Greece had failed to enforce the EU Transport and Slaughter Directives.

Europe's highest court upheld many of the Commission's allegations, ruling that Greece has failed to enforce EU animal welfare directives on slaughter and transport. The judgment found that Greece has failed to fulfil its obligations under the Council Directive on the protection of animals during transport and on the protection of animals at the time of slaughter or killing.

The case's allegations were formed using information gathered by the European Commission's Food and Veterinary Office (FVO), which ensures EU animal welfare legislation is properly implemented and enforced. The FVO carried out missions into Greek slaughter and transport practices.

The Commission recognised the need to act following key investigations by Compassion in World Farming and other animal welfare groups. Films produced by Compassion in World Farming in 1997, 2001 and 2005, which show widespread breaches of the Slaughter Directive in Greece, have helped lead to this significant Court judgment.

Compassion in World Farming investigations into Greek slaughterhouses, conducted in 2005, exposed poor slaughter and handling practices and inadequate stunning of sheep and cattle before slaughter.

"The work of Compassion in World farming and that of other organisations has, over many years, helped to put pressure on the European Commission to act. This ruling shows that investigative work by NGOs can lead to countries being condemned for inhumane animal welfare practices and emphasises the need for member countries to uphold the EU directives." said Peter Stevenson, Chief Policy Advisor for Compassion in World Farming

The judgment found Greece in breach of the directives by failing to take the measures necessary

  • to ensure that the authorities carry out obligatory checks of route plans;
  • to provide for facilities in, or in the immediate vicinity of, ferry ports to enable animals to rest after unloading;
  • so as to ensure that the inspections of the means of transport and the animals are actually carried out;
  • to ensure that the rules on the stunning of animals at the time of slaughter are complied with, and
  • to ensure that inspections and controls in slaughterhouses are carried out in an appropriate manner

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