This morning’s AGRIFISH Council meeting saw the positioning of EU Member States on the paper presented by Portugal calling for a continuation of live animal exports. The paper supported by seven other Member States was heavily criticized by civil society and the media as an attempt to undermine progress in improving animal welfare in the EU.
Nonetheless, the position of several Member States in favour of a ban on long-distance transport and export was clear.
Germany highlighted the scientific evidence given by EFSA on the animal welfare risks resulting in long duration of transports and extreme temperatures and the consideration of societal demands when deciding on this issue. It concluded that long exports to third countries are not acceptable. Netherlands and Denmark remarked that too many cases of suffering in the past have shown that transport of livestock to third countries should be avoided, and animal friendly alternatives should be implemented and adjusted to specific animal needs. This was supported by Finland and Luxembourg who highlighted the transport of meat and genetic material as an alternative to live exports for slaughter.
The Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides closed the exchange with a powerful, forthright and optimistic reaction, stating that animal transport is a key part of the revision process and high priority for the Commission. She added that proposals will be based on updated scientific opinion and evidence, and that when certain practices were not working, the rules must be changed. Whilst farmers would be supported to transition to new systems, the welfare of the animals must be ensured.
Although FOUR PAWS is exasperated that some Member States still push for the continuation of live exports, despite the abject failure of this approach over decades, it welcomed the firm stance from several Member States and the European Commission, who are clear in their resolve to do what is needed for the welfare of animals. In support of Commissioner Kyriakides’ comment that “doing nothing is not an option”, Joe Moran, Director of European Policy Office at FOUR PAWS said, “Commissioner Kyriakides spoke up for the vast majority of Europeans today when she reminded Member States that it is the welfare of animals that is the objective of these proposals, not the continuation of a broken economic model.
“Whilst change can be hard, and farmers must be supported, democracy rests on the will of the majority and citizens are crying out for change beyond the Brussels bubble. Commissioner Kyriakides is clearly listening. It is a shame several Ministers seem either oblivious or uninterested.
“We now expect the Commission to deliver an ambitious proposal later this year, to deliver on the will of citizens and to spare the needless suffering of millions of animals in the process.”
FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, orangutans and elephants – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in twelve countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org