Alyn Calls For Better Enforcement Of Animal Transport Rules

30 May 2012
Through submitting several amendments to the Agriculture Committee's Wojciechowski Report on Animal Transport, SNP MEP Alyn Smith has signalled the need for "enforcement first" of the current rules before new legislation.
Alyn applauded the decision of rapporteur Wojciechowski not to demand a blanket 8 hour limit on journey times, but to base travelling time on the scientific needs of individual species, with derogations for geographically remote regions such as the Highlands of Scotland.  Alyn's own amendments focus firmly on a stronger application of the existing legislation across Europe, particularly in regions where enforcement has been patchy to non-existent.  

Alyn has called for additional funding under Rural Development programmes to help transport lorries take up satellite navigation technology; greater uniformity and application of dissuasive penalties and sanctions against those who violate the law; the dissemination of guides of good practice and better and more standard training courses for lorry drivers across Europe.  He also turned the spotlight on the root causes of long journey times, particularly the lack of regional slaughterhouses, and proposed a re-visit of the state aid rules to encourage investment in rural infrastructure, so that animals will not have to be transported long distances to slaughter in the future.

Alyn said:

"This critically important debate about how to reduce the number of journeys undertaken by animals to slaughter in the EU has been hijacked somewhat by the well-meaning but ineffective demand for an 8 hour limit on journeys.  I have consistently made the point that if we cannot enforce the rules that we have now, we are unlikely to be able to enforce this 8 hour limit.  The goal of better enforcement is precisely what my amendments are intended to achieve, and I hope they will assist in refocusing discussions on what we can practically do now to improve conditions for animals in Europe.

"For instance, it stands to reason that it is preferable to transport meat to live animals, and so slaughter as close as possible to the place of rearing would be an important step.  This is a classical example of the EU's left hand not knowing what the right is doing, as improved animal welfare standards have gone hand in hand with tight state aid rules forcing the closure of local rural slaughterhouses, and this is clearly a subject we shall have to re-visit.

"Equally, it is unacceptable that serious offenders can escape with a slap on the wrists merely due to the country they happen to be in when they commit the offence, so some greater central co-ordination is clearly needed in the field of penalties and sanctions - which should be dissuasive and uniform."