Compassion in World Farming is appalled that the European Commission's new report on the protection of live animals during transport does not propose any changes to the current legislation.
EU rules allow animals to be transported for huge distances across Europe for slaughter or further fattening, despite broad agreement that these long journeys often entail severe suffering for the animals concerned.
Out of date
The Commission's report recognises parts of legislation are "not in line with current scientific knowledge" and that making sure the regulations are adhered to by member states is a "major challenge" but falls short of recommending any change to legislation.
Joyce D'Silva, Director of Public Affairs at Compassion, says: "Investigations continue to reveal the terrible suffering endured by millions of animals during transport. How can the European Commission acknowledge that the Transport Regulation needs updating, yet fail to suggest any changes to the legislation?
"Yes, enforcement needs to be drastically improved, as our recent investigation into the transport of sheep from Romania to Greece showed, but enforcement alone can't properly address the animal welfare problems that frequently arise during long journeys.
"Animals should be reared as close as possible to where they are born and slaughtered as close as possible to the farm of rearing. To make this a reality, a maximum overall limit of eight hours should be placed on journeys to slaughter or for further fattening."
The current legislation (Regulation 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport) points out that "Long journeys are likely to have more detrimental effects on the welfare of animals than short ones" and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a scientific opinion this year which said transport of live animals, where possible should be avoided.
Many animals are being transported long distances in overcrowded vehicles with inadequate ventilation and insufficient headroom. Often animals are transported on long journeys without being given breaks for rest, food and water as required by the Regulation.
In addition, ill and injured animals are regularly being transported to slaughterhouses in some Member States in contravention of the Regulation's prohibition of the transport of unfit animals.
The Commission does not go into sufficient detail as to how it will tackle the long-standing failure by many Member States to properly enforce the Regulation.
The current law requires vehicles transporting animals on journeys of longer than eight hours to have a satellite navigation system that records key data. The Commission's report recognises that these navigation systems have so far failed to help with enforcement.
Joyce said: "We believe to be truly effective, the GPS systems on these long-distance trucks should have to transmit data in real time to an EU database that competent authorities have access to. This would allow authorities to make sure each journey is carried out in compliance with the Regulation."
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