Commission promises proposal on animal transport before July: answer to parliamentary question

January 21, 2003

Strasbourg, 20 January 2003

Verbatim report of proceedings on 16 January 2003, Part A

Question no 39 by Marialiese Flemming (H-0852/02)
Subject: Animal transport
For nearly one year the Commission has been promising to publish a new directive on the transport of farm animals. The most important stakeholders have also been consulted at least twice, and 14 days of Internet comments have finished. How many more animals will be allowed to suffer and die on long-distance journeys before the Commission takes action? And would the Commission agree with the Parliament that placing an eight-hour limit on journeys for animals going for slaughter is the only practical solution?

Answer
The Commission is fully aware that transport of animals is a very complex issue associating both animal welfare and animal health concerns. At the same time it is known that maintaining the status quo is not acceptable and weaknesses in the current legislation must be addressed.

The question of animal transport and in particular the maximum duration of the journey was debated at the Agriculture Council of September. On travelling times the debate was controversial, but the Member of the Commission in charge of Health and Consumer protection believes that this single issue should not deflect attention from other key issues, which also have a major bearing on animal transport.

Following the Council debate the Commission consulted both European citizens and relevant organisations on the issue.

Both initiatives have proved to be successful. The Commission's desire to improve the protection of animals during transport received very strong backing.

Over the Web, more than 4000 citizens from all over Europe expressed their agreement to the broad measures that the Commission intends to propose.

Citizens and major stakeholders have also made clear how they would like matters to proceed from here.

A vast majority demand better regulation of the standards of transportation and on space allowances. At the same time, stricter conditions for the approval of transporters are called for - as well as a harmonised licensing system for drivers.

The proposal is now in an advanced stage of preparation and its adoption by the Commission is foreseen during the first semester of 2003.

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