Live Animal Transport: EU Tables Improved Conditions

In an attempt to overhaul the current EU framework governing live animal transport, the European Commission unveiled today a proposal which partly considers the true chain of responsibility and care for animals during road transport.

Following a lengthy consultation process, the European Commission presented today a new legislative proposal to replace the current regulation overseeing the protection of animals during transport. This long-awaited revision aims to improve the welfare of animals from the first point of departure to their final destination, including to outside the EU. The proposal contains several provisions which could directly or indirectly impact the welfare of animals during transport.

These include restrictions on the length of the journey for slaughter animals, more space for animals in vehicles and other technical specifications such as temperature control, special provisions for journeys to third countries, clarifications on the role of various parties along the logistics chain, especially the role of the organisers of the ‘animal journey’, and digitalisation and enforcement.

IRU Director of EU Advocacy Raluca Marian said, “IRU welcomes the Commission’s much-needed efforts to fundamentally overhaul the rules governing animal welfare during transport. The Commission has addressed some concerns, but its approach is still lopsided towards the various parties which have to guarantee the welfare of the animals during their journey, especially on competence, knowledge and training. Unfortunately, this approach is not in sync with the actual reality of animal transport.”

Following an initial review of the proposal, IRU has identified two particular issues.

More clearly defined responsibilities

The liability across the logistics chain to decide whether an animal is fit for carriage is one of the key concerns which is inadequately addressed by the proposal. The proposal addresses this by introducing clear limits for the different stakeholders in the logistics process such as organisers, keepers and transport operators.

“We’re pleased to see that the Commission has understood that drivers and transport operators can only carry out a – highly challenging – visible check during the loading process. It is extremely hard for drivers to detect hidden conditions which can worsen during transport. Reflecting this in the delimitation of the responsibility of the various parties, including organisers and keepers should provide extra guarantees against unfit animals being presented and loaded for transport,” highlighted Marian.

Cumbersome training only for transporters

The issue of liability and knowledge is closely related to the training of professionals involved in the logistics process of live animal carriage. The proposal only foresees training and exams for road transport drivers and attendants.

Marian said, “This is still a very one-sided approach. The truck driver is only one link in the chain. In contrast, no obligation is foreseen for the journey organiser who actually has the overview of the complete journey of an animal, not just of one single transport leg. If animal welfare was taken seriously, all professionals involved in the process, including those who organise and plan journeys, keep, attend and carry live animals, and not only the drivers, would be properly trained and fully familiar with EU and national rules as well as with the animal species they are carrying. This way they can properly assume the responsibilities they have been given to guarantee the welfare of the animals throughout the logistics chain.”

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