The Commission has proposed a major overhaul of EU animal welfare rules during transport, marking the first significant reform in 20 years. The package includes a review of current EU rules for animals in transport, with the aim of improving the welfare of the 1.6 billion animals transported within and from the EU each year. The new rules are designed to reflect the latest scientific evidence and knowledge, as well as technological advances.
According to the Commission, the current rules are outdated and “do not reflect current realities, the latest scientific knowledge and advice, sustainability objectives or the legitimate concerns of our citizens with regard to animal welfare.”
The proposal focuses on key areas vital to guaranteeing the good welfare of animals in transport. For example, travel times will be shortened and during long journeys, animals will need to be unloaded for rest, feeding, and watering periods. Special rules will also apply to animals intended for slaughter and vulnerable animals, such as unweaned calves and pregnant females.
Furthermore, the benefits will be increased and adapted to each species to ensure a minimum space for the different animals. Transport in extreme temperatures will be subject to strict conditions, including limiting transport only at night when temperatures exceed 30 degrees. In addition, when temperatures are below 0°C, road vehicles will be covered and air circulation in the animal compartment will be controlled to protect animals from exposure to wind chill during travel. If temperatures fall below -5°C, the duration of the trip should not exceed 9 hours, in addition to the aforementioned measures.
Moreover, the rules for live animal exports from the Union will be tightened, including better controls in third countries to meet standards equivalent to those in the EU. The aim is to make the most of digital tools to facilitate compliance with transport regulations, such as real-time vehicle positioning and a central database.
The proposed reform signals a significant step forward in ensuring the welfare of animals during transport within the EU and is expected to have a positive impact on the treatment of animals in the region.