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EU live transport proposal not enough to end animal suffering, say animal welfare campaigners

News Section Icon Published 12/7/2023

The European Commission’s proposal to reform the EU’s outdated rules for the transport of live animals, published today (7 December), rolls back on some rules and is simply not enough to end the suffering of the millions of live EU animals transported on long journeys every year, according to Compassion in World Farming.

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, it would lead to unregulated length of sea journeys, weak temperature limits, and new loopholes created by bad and missing definitions. Compassion in World Farming believes the provisions are insufficient to prevent some of the worst cruelty endured by animals during transport and would not significantly decrease suffering.

Just last week, Compassion and Eurogroup for Animals released a shocking new report revealing the scale of suffering caused by the EU’s trade in live animals. A data dump of suffering: the EU’s long-distance trade in farm animals exposed details the true horror endured by around 44 million EU cattle, pigs and sheep on appalling journeys lasting up to three weeks. It also showed that inadequate and misleading official EU records are masking the extent of animal suffering.

Owen Gibbons, Regional Director of Campaigns and Advocacy, Compassion in World Farming, said: “Although the draft EU animal transport law shows some desire to improve animal protection rules, it is a missed opportunity as it’s simply not enough to end the suffering of the millions of live EU animals transported on long journeys every year. Legislators around the world are moving towards export bans – with restrictions already adopted in Germany, Luxembourg, and New Zealand, and hopefully soon in the UK and Australia.

“What’s needed is what EU citizens want – a ban on the export of live animals to non-EU countries, and much stricter rules to limit to transport times, ensure journeys are properly adjusted to take into account weather conditions, as well as ending the transport of vulnerable animals, among others.

“While we welcome efforts to improve the welfare of animals – including proposals for companion animals released today – the Commission has failed EU citizens by not delivering the comprehensive animal welfare reforms it promised. This includes a clear commitment to ban caged animal farming following a European Citizens’ Initiative, signed by 1.4 million people, which was thwarted by lobbying from the factory farming industry.”

An overwhelming nine out of ten EU citizens 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 – said they favoured 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.

For more information please email or call +44 (0)1483 521 615

Images of animals being transported can be downloaded here.

Notes to Editors

  1. Compassion in World Farming was founded in 1967 by a British dairy farmer who became horrified at the development of intensive factory farming. Today Compassion is the leading farm animal welfare organisation dedicated to ending factory farming and achieving humane and sustainable food. With headquarters in the UK, we have offices across Europe, in the US, China and South Africa.



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