Urgent change needed: European Court of Auditors exposes severe deficiencies in live animal transport practices
The review shows that animal welfare violations in live animal transport will continue to be systematic if the rules are not changed in the upcoming EU legislation.
Brussels 17th April 2023 – The European Court of Auditors confirms what FOUR PAWS and many other NGOs have been voicing. The current system of live animal transport in the EU cannot guarantee an acceptable level of animal welfare.
Today the European Court of Auditors has published its review on live animal transport in the EU. The report describes the main factors behind the transport of live animals and their subsequent low level of welfare, most being economic and regulatory. It highlights that the exploitation of cost differences between member states leads to lengthy transport journeys where the quality of animal welfare is not taken into account in the cost of transportation.
Further, it explains that there is a lack of economic incentive for transport companies to maintain a high level of animal welfare as transport legislation is not evenly enforced by member states and loopholes deriving from different national sanctions systems can be exploited.
Such weak enforcement of rules and lack of economic incentive is shown with an example of inadequate sanctioning, where a €250 fine is imposed for transporting a bull with a broken leg, when the approximate value of a slaughtered bull can be around €1,500.
On the other hand, the report identifies several opportunities which, if considered in the upcoming revision of EU legislation, would significantly improve animal welfare during transport. These include the promotion of transport of carcasses rather than live animals, the harmonisation in meat labelling, and the development of a methodology that prices-in animal suffering in transport costs.
More broadly, the report shows that reducing the number and length of journeys as well as finding alternatives to live transport would mitigate the negative impacts on animal welfare. While FOUR PAWS and many other NGOs have been calling for a ban on long distance journeys and live exports, more than one third of all transports of live animals are long distance or very long distance.
Andreas Manz, EU Farm Animal Policy Coordinator at FOUR PAWS says, “The European Court of Auditors’ report confirms that things cannot continue as they are. The long-standing problems of lack of transparency, weak enforcement and constant animal welfare violations in live animal transport will continue to be systematic if the rules are not changed in the upcoming EU legislation.
“The report therefore underlines the key role that EU decision makers will play in producing meaningful change, or not. From providing better economic incentives for transporters to promoting change in consumption patterns, as well as putting forward legislative proposals that ban cruel practices and include species specific requirements for transport, now is the time to make things happen for animals.”
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