The Green Party's animal rights spokesperson Keith Taylor MEP today [Thursday 8 Novemeber] raised objections to the inhumane live animal exports industry across Europe.
The senior Green politician opinion was presented on behalf of the Greens/EFA group in the Environment Committee regarding its report on the implementation of EU-wide live animal transport regulations. Mr Taylor is also responsible for drafting the Transport Committee’s report on this issue.
Mr Taylor published a report earlier this year looking at the Brexit impacts on live animal transport in the UK and has consistently called for an outright ban on the trade domestically. He said:
"I agree with the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe, amongst many others, who believe that animals should be should be born, fattened and slaughtered in the same region instead of being transported over long distances.
We need desperately to move towards a more regional and sustainable model of livestock production, encouraging the development of local production and consumption. I’m calling on the Commission to make this move, and one of the ways to do this through ensuring the continuation of regional slaughterhouses and meat processing plants, including mobile slaughterhouses.
We also need to urgently address the current market distortion caused by differing tariffs applied to live animals and to meat, which strongly incentivises trade in live animals.
My report also calls for a ban on all live animal exports to third countries. Prolonged delays at third country border controls - like the EU and Turkey - can last for hours, even days in the stifling heat resulting in horrific suffering and fatalities of many animals. This is despite the Court of Justice of the European Union’s judgment that EU transporters must comply with the requirements of Regulation until the final destination even if that is outside of the EU. But terrible conditions and a severe lack of facilities at third country borders means this simply cannot be done.
In the meantime, we need to tackle the astonishing lack of compliance amongst European Countries so I am calling for a whole host of measures such as better vehicle standards, more veterinary checks and an EU-wide blacklist of operators. I also want to see governments using the strong enforcement mechanisms made available to them under the Regulation. Transporters have - quite literally - been getting away with murder, and it is high time for this to stop.
It is no secret that the welfare protections for animals during transport are barely existent; animals are crammed into old and broken trailers, squashed against ceilings, stuck under partitions or piled up on top of each other on top of their own dirty bedding with no access to water. That’s not even to say what happens when these traumatised animals are then bundled on to boats to be stuck at sea for days on end.
It is a distressing sight - and one that is all too commonplace. And thanks to the heart-breaking work of organisations like Animals’ Angels it is a well-evidenced tragedy. A five-year investigation by Eyes on Animals and AWF/TSB found 70% of the inspected trucks were ‘not compliant’ with the Regulation.
Yet, we find ourselves a decade on from the Regulation’s entry into force with the same breaches being reported, time and time again. Nothing has changed.
Except that even more animals are being exported outside the EU, with European livestock export values skyrocketing. According to The European Commission’s statisticians, every year, over 3 million European cattle and sheep are exported by sea and road to Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa.
The Regulation stipulates that in the interest of animal welfare the transport of animals over long journeys should be limited to the greatest extent possible. Not only has this aim not been met and it seems to have been thrown out the window.
Frankly, animal transport shouldn’t be happening at all, I want to see us move from a trade in live animals to one solely of meat and carcasses, where necessary. As well as protecting millions of animals from this unnecessary cruelty, this could significantly reduce the volume of related transport and have a positive impact on the environment by reducing emissions and pollutants too.
Negotiating with other political parties means that sadly at this time it will be impossible to ban this trade outright. So I am calling for a ban on all journeys that take over eight hours, reducing this to a maximum of four hours for unweaned animals and four hours for all journeys to slaughter."