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Campaigners welcome ‘historic’ EU inquiry into live animal transport

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Nearly 2 billion animals were on the move in 2017, undertaking increasingly long journeys, sometimes lasting weeks, to places as remote as Russia, Uganda and Thailand.

HOLLY YOUNG: The European Parliament has voted to establish an inquiry committee to investigate the transport of live animals across and out of the European Union. The committee will address whether the European Commission has failed to act upon evidence of “serious and systematic” infringements of EU regulations for the protection of exported live animals.

Dutch MEP Anja Hazekamp described the vote, which took place on Friday, as a “historical breakthrough” for animal welfare: “A huge majority of parliament have said that animal transports should be investigated really firmly because they can all see there is so much going wrong.”

Animal welfare organisation Four Paws welcomed it as a “milestone decision”. Approximately 200 reports detailing breaches in regulations have been filed to the commission since 2007. Hazekamp said these cases are not incidental as those in the industry often claim: “It is on a structural basis that we see really cruel things done to animals – severe abuse and mistreatment.”

For a long time, she said, neither the commission nor member states were willing to take the lead in responsibility “and in the meantime, for decades, nothing changed”. Fear of commercial competition has also been an obstacle, she adds.

The Guardian reported earlier this year that the global live animal export business has more than quadrupled in size over the past 50 years, with rising meat demand setting nearly 2 billion animals on the move in 2017. The trade is also booming in Europe with an estimated value of $3.3bn (£2.7bn). Animals are undertaking increasingly long journeys – sometimes lasting weeks – to places as remote as Russia, Uganda and Thailand.

The committee’s report, to be submitted in a year, will look at suspected lack of enforcement for regulations on space, watering, feeding, bedding, temperature and ventilation for transported animals… Campaigners have also highlighted inhumane slaughter methods as a ground for tightening regulation and called for a shift towards the export of meat and carcasses.

While Hazekamp doesn’t believe the parliament wants to ban live exports entirely, the new inquiry and member-state action highlights growing political momentum. “There is more and more pressure,” she said. “It’s a big problem that is really in the hearts of the citizens of Europe”. SOURCE…

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