MEP Inquiry on animal transport adopts final report

Rapporteurs Daniel Buda and Isabel Carvalhais say ANIT committee’s conclusion represents ‘significant step’ for European Parliament”

By Andreas Rogal

Andreas Rogal is a senior journalist at the Parliament Magazine

03 Dec 2021

The Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals during Transport (ANIT) adopted its final report on Thursday, avoiding hard bans on certain controversial issues like a strict limit of transport time, and the transport of unweaned or pregnant animals.

The rapporteurs, Daniel Buda (RO, EPP) and Isabel Carvalhais (PT, S&D) still believe it to be an overall success, which should lead to a much-improved situation than the current one.

Calling the report a “flagship policy” document, the Carvalhais told journalists at a press conference on Friday that “animal welfare is close to all our hearts”, and that the report “represents a significant step for Parliament”.

“We are sending a wake-up call here... having looked at the entire supply chain, our aim must be to make it as short and near as possible” Co-rapporteur Isabel Carvalhais (PT, S&D)

Buda, who is also a vice-chair of Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) Committee recalled that in the year and a half of the committee’s work, including a number of fact-finding missions and hearings with experts, it had become clear that the 2005 EU legislation covering animal transport was “not well implemented in Member States. If it was, we would have far fewer problems in animal transport”, he added.

Commenting, earlier in the week, ANIT vice-chair Marlene Mortler (DE, EPP) explained: “Although a common European animal transport regulation has existed for 15 years, weaknesses in its implementation were apparent, for example in the equipment of the transport vehicles or in the plausibility of the routes”.

Commenting on the committee’s work, the Bavarian MEP added: “We have tried to identify and solve these in the past months. Until the end, the sticking points were provisions on the transport of very young or particularly vulnerable animals as well as on temperatures and transport duration”.

The two rapporteurs praised the open, constructive and respectful spirit in the ANIT committee and among their shadows drafting the report, with Carvalhais stressing that it was “not prohibitionist, not about bans but about finding solutions”.

However, a picture tweeted after the vote concerning binding limits by ANIT chair Tilly Metz (LU, Greens/EFA), illustrated the split on these measures.

Behind the opposition to absolute limits are not only industry or commercial interests, but also the reality of certain regions within the EU, with Carvalhais pointing to Portugal’s islands in the Atlantic and other outermost regions where the proposed outright transport duration limit, with no provisions for derogation, would destroy local livestock farming which relies on transport to the mainland.

A limit on transporting animals still dependent on their mothers’ milk for nutrition was narrowly adopted but will no doubt be fought over again when the report reaches plenary in January, as this Twitter comment by the Renew Group’s shadow Billy Kelleher showed:

One of the central issues identified in the report as being responsible for overlong transport times, and one which all legislators want to see addressed urgently, is the insufficient infrastructure of abattoirs.

l Buda called it out at the press conference, simply stating “there is no proper abattoir system in the EU”, adding that even in Germany, a country the committee found to be generally following and setting best practices on animal transport, the lack of this infrastructure existed.

[EU legislation covering animal transport was] “not well implemented in Member States. If it was, we would have far fewer problems in animal transport” Co-rapporteur Daniel Buda (RO, EPP)

The report calls for Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) instruments to be used for the investment needed to bring livestock farmers and slaughterhouses closer together – on a purely commercial basis, abattoirs are often not viable in remote regions, as Isabelle Carvalhais remarked.

“We are sending a wake-up call here”, she concluded, arguing that “having looked at the entire supply chain, our aim must be to make it as short and near as possible”.

The rapporteurs called on the European Commission to propose a comprehensive action plan on animal transport, and include Parliament’s suggestions in a reform of the existing EU legislation.