Under the regulations, Member States will be required to more rigorously enforce existing rules and also penalise all offenders.
A resolution passed by deputies calls for the “strong and harmonised” enforcement of a 2005 law which the EU says has so far been “poorly applied” in certain, unnamed, Member States.
The Commission is urged “not to shy away” from imposing tough sanctions on Member States which fail to apply the EU rules correctly.
MEPs say Member States also have a role to play and should prosecute breaches of EU rules with what are called “effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties.”
Such sanctions should include confiscation of vehicles and compulsory retraining of staff responsible for animal welfare.
MEPs also want to deploy modern technology to improve the enforcement of current rules.
They have called on the Commission to develop geolocation systems that would enable animals’ location and the duration of journeys in vehicles to be tracked.
“Actors in the transport chain need to live up to their obligations, whether they are farmers, traders of animals, veterinarians, or transport companies” Jørn Dohrmann
Members also demand a real-time feedback loop between points of departure and arrival and penalties for those who falsely fill in journey logs.
ANIMAL WELFARE STRATEGY
Parliament is also pushing for a new 2020-2024 animal welfare strategy and a “clear definition” of what constitutes fitness for transport and guidelines on how to assess it.
Every year, millions of animals are transported between Member States, within Member States and to non-EU countries over long distances for breeding, rearing, further fattening and slaughter but also for recreation, competitions and as companions.
Following widespread reports on ill-treatment of transported animals, Parliament’s conference of presidents, or group leaders, tasked the assembly’s agriculture committee with drafting an implementation report on how EU rules are being enforced in practice.
The proposed crackdown has received cross-party approval, with Danish deputy Jørn Dohrmann saying, “Actors in the transport chain need to live up to their obligations, whether they are farmers, traders of animals, veterinarians, or transport companies.”
The ECR member, Parliament’s rapporteur on the issue, added, “We have now made it clear to the Commission and Member States that they must do so, either by enforcing current rules properly or by looking into new policy tools to apply new technology and minimise transport times.”
His comments were broadly echoed by UK Greens MEP Keith Taylor who said he was “pleased and genuinely inspired” that MEPs had backed the proposals to restrict the “squalid live exports trade.”
“MEPs have demonstrated our commitment to doing the most good for the most animals across the continent" Keith Taylor MEP
Taylor added that deputies had taken an “ambitious and cross-party step towards the kind of restrictions we have been campaigning on for years in the UK and across Europe.”
He said, “Domestically, an eight-hour time limit will effectively end the live animal exports trade in the UK - and that's huge.”
He says the new rules could also reduce exports outside of the EU, “which is where the most horrific scenes of cruelty are often recorded.”
He said, “Brexit Leave-campaigners might have backed away from this issue - which they shamelessly tried to exploit during the referendum - but MEPs have demonstrated our commitment to doing the most good for the most animals across the continent."
Taylor said more is still needed, adding, “Ultimately, I will not rest until we have a full and complete ban on this cruel and unnecessary trade."