No Surprise In Animal Transport Report

10 November 2011
Alyn Smith MEP, member of the European Parliament's powerful Agriculture Committee, has hailed today's report from the European Commission on the impact of the Regulation on the protection of animals during transport (EC 1/2005) as a welcome relief for Scotland's remote farmers.

The report investigated the state of play of the animal transport regulation with regard to improvements in animal welfare, enforcement, effects on the trade flow of live animals and socio-economic impacts. It concluded that "better implementation and enforcement of the existing regulation should be preferred to changing the present regulation."

Alyn said:

"This report confirms what we already suspected - the regulation isn't the issue, enforcement - or lack of it - is. It is clear from this that there is a great divergence between different Member States in the way that they implement, enforce and penalise breaches in the regulation. Journey times in journey logs are not regularly checked, and the levels of fines for misdemeanours are often not dissuasive and vary significantly from country to country, putting animal welfare at risk, and denying transport companies a level playing field.

"The main positive to come out of this report is the clear statement from the Commission that enforcement needs to be harmonised across the EU before new rules are considered. This is testimony to the important efforts of the Scottish farming industry in persuading DG SANCO of realities on the ground, and shows how effective and timely action can influence European policy in Scotland's direction.

"I'm pleased that the report concludes that the regulation has induced certain improvements in animal welfare, and that over 40 per cent of vehicles now have navigation systems, even if they are being under-utilised.  

"We need to move the debate on, to consider how we can reduce the need for long distance transportation of animals. Re-visiting the rules surrounding slaughterhouses, to encourage slaughter closer to production, seems like a good place to start."

The report can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/welfare/transport/index_en.htm

A summary of the report has been produced below:

STUDY ON THE IMPACT OF REGULATION 1/2005 ON THE PROTECTION OF ANIMALS DURING TRANSPORT

  • The evaluation focused on the 10 EU Member States with the largest proportion of the trade in farmed animals (DE, DK, EF, FR, IR, IT, NL, PL, RO, UK). All EU Member States were taken into account with regard to international trade. The evaluation was restricted to horses, cattle, pigs, sheep and goats, and poultry. Data was mainly collected (using 55 indicators) through a questionnaire for each stakeholder group, as well as EFSA studies, FVO reports, and other literature.
  • The Regulation has slightly improved animal welfare with regard to the animals unfit from transport, dead on arrival, severe injuries, dehydration and lameness. The number of installations of ventilation and watering systems has increased continuously from 2005 to 2009, while feeding systems have not changed as long distance vehicles were already equipped with such facilities.
  • The percentage of vehicles equipped with navigation systems have increased from 1.8% in 2005 to 43.75% in 2009. However, the level of utilisation of such systems is low, partly because of their complexity.
  • The Regulation has not had an impact on international trade flows of live animals, as levels of trade have continuously increased, mainly explained by the regional slaughter capacity of the EU caused by differences in slaughter costs and policies of slaughterhouse companies.
  • The Regulation has increased transport costs, mainly by adjusting the means of transport (e.g. roof, feed and watering systems), but there is no indication so far that the Regulation has affected the competitiveness of animal production in the remote areas of the EU i.e. animal production levels in remote areas have remained roughly the same. (However, there could still be longer term effects). The study took specific account of Scotland in this.
  • The Regulation is still not fully implemented in all Member States. There are significant differences in requirements for transport companies (e.g. on training courses) and significant differences regarding enforcement and penalties (e.g. minimum fines range from 75 EUR in France to 2000 EUR in Austria). Journeys, in some cases, are extended to take advantage of differences in enforcement and penalties between Member States. Transport companies are adversely affected by the lack of a level playing field.
  • Enforcement of journey log submissions has only started recently, and journey times in journey logs are still not regularly checked.
  • "Given the fact that implementation and enforcement of Regulation 1/2005 varies among MS and its implementation is still in progress, the impact of the Regulation may not become clear for a number of years, especially in the more remote areas of the Union."
  • Recommendations: "Better implementation and enforcement of the existing regulation should be preferred to changing the present Regulation."
  • Good guides to practice should be supported - these guides can be privately checked - organisations are more likely to follow the rules and standards set by themselves. (The UK has been a leader in this regard).
  • The impact of the Regulation must be increased. We need a uniform definition and interpretation of all aspects of the Regulation, a uniform method of enforcement, and more uniform levels of penalties, at least at a level which is dissuasive.
  • Commission proposals for action: Adopt implementing measures concerning navigation systems and establish a simplified version of the journey log.
  • Implementing measures on the controls to be performed by Member States.
  • Increase co-operation with competent authorities and stakeholders.
  • Disseminate Commission guidance on the interpretation of the Regulation and support the development of guides to good practice.