The European Parliament’s Own-Initiative Report on the Protection of Animals During Transport (rapporteur: Janusz Wojciechowski – ECR, Poland) was adopted on 12 December in their plenary session in Strasbourg after months of discussions.

As a consequence of the approval of many amendments, the consolidated text is far from ideal, but it still contains some very important points that constitute one further authoritative call to the EU institutions to review the existing rules on long-distance animal transport and to establish a maximum 8-hour journey limit for the transport of animals destined for slaughter.

Sheep - Alton, UK 2012

Sheep - Alton, UK 2012

In any case, this was not a vote on a legislative proposal but on an official position of the Parliament, which is important but does not have a direct effect on the status quo.

Having said that, here are some of the report’s key elements:

1.    It calls for a maximum journey time of 8 hours, although with some derogations when a slaughterhouse cannot be reached within 8 hours and for some animals if scientific evidence is available to justify longer times;
2.    It contains references to the European Parliament’s Written Declaration 49/2011 ‘on the establishment of a maximum 8-hour journey limit for animals transported in the European Union for the purpose of being slaughtered’;
3.    It calls on the Commission and Council to review Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 in the light of the latest scientific evidence published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA);
4.    It urges that veterinary checks on transported animals should take place at the end of their transportation;
5.    It calls for stricter sanctions, annual veterinary checks and other improvements.

For such a non-legislative report, the key point is that it carries a strong message to the EU Commission and Council that the European Parliament – i.e. the EU citizens’ elected representatives – want a review of Regulation 2005 and the establishment of a maximum 8-hour limit.

226 MEPs voted in favour of an alternative report tabled by the Green group which was even stronger than the approved one, especially in its references to the 8hours campaign.

The 8hours campaign was launched by Animals’ Angels – an international organisation which has documented hundreds of cases of severe suffering endured by transported animals – together with Danish MEP Dan Jørgensen.

New actions will be announced in the coming weeks.