Today (19 June), the EU Parliament overwhelmingly voted in favour of the establishment of a Committee of Inquiry on animal transport. Compassion in World Farming and FOUR PAWS are delighted with the outcome of the vote. At present, EU member states are poorly enforcing the EU law that is meant to protect the millions of farmed animals transported thousands of miles for slaughter, breeding or further fattening every year.
The EU needs to resolve a number of long persistent problems related to the implementation of the EU law on animal transport, including overcrowding, failure to provide the required rest stops, food and water, transport in extreme heat, transport of unfit animals and insufficient bedding.
The decision by the EU Parliament follows a wave of actions by civil society and the EU institutions, raising red flags on the issue. The EU Commission’s recent ‘Farm To Fork’ strategy clearly states that the EU Commission intends to review the legislation on animal transport. In December last year, the Council of the EU highlighted that ‘clear shortcomings and inconsistencies remain’ regarding the challenges of long-distance transport in its conclusions on animal welfare.
World Farming EU Head of Compassion Olga Kikou said: “The Parliament’s vote to put the atrocities of animal transport under the limelight brings hope. Every year millions of farm animals are transported live on long and gruesome journeys, quite often in filthy conditions, cramped, and often trampling on each other. In summer, they are transported in scathingly high temperatures, dehydrated and exhausted. Some of them perish. For many, these are the last torturous hours before they reach the slaughterhouse. EU law should protect animals from such suffering, yet most EU countries do not comply with the legal requirements regarding transport and allow such cruelty to continue. This must stop. The EU must finally reduce the number and overall duration of transports and put an end to animal exports outside EU borders.”
FOUR PAWS European Policy Office Director Pierre Sultana said: “Today's decision is a milestone for animal welfare. Parliament has taken the opportunity to address animal suffering during transport. Systematic violations during animal transport have been criticized for years. The Committee of Inquiry will investigate violations and maladministration of the Animal Transport Regulation by the European Commission and the EU member states. Parliament, as the directly elected representation of the European citizens, thus fulfils its most important task, namely the exercise of democratic oversight and control. This is a clear sign for member states and the European Commission to do more to avoid animal suffering and enforce EU regulation.”
- The proposal was put forward by the European Parliament’s Conference of Presidents on 11 June. During the previous legislative term, the European Parliament adopted an Implementation Report on live transport and concluded that a Committee of Inquiry on live indeed needed (2018/2110(INI), Point 22). According to the European Commission’s overview audit reports of animal transport by land and by sea, there is widespread non-compliance and regular failure by Member State authorities to enforce this law. The European Court of Auditors also concluded in its report on the implementation of animal welfare legislation that ‘weaknesses persist in certain areas related to welfare issues’ during transport.
- The Committee of Inquiry is an investigative instrument that the EU Parliament can decide to establish in order to address pressing societal issues. In the past legislative terms, for instance the EU Parliament established special committees in the aftermath of the LuxLeaks and mad cow disease scandals.
- Compassion in World Farming has campaigned for farm animal welfare and sustainable food and farming for over 50 years. We have over one million supporters and representations in eleven European countries, the US, China, and South Africa. Our EU Office campaigns for an end to the use of cruel caged systems, reducing our consumption of animal products, an end to long-distance live animal transport and the exports of live animals outside the EU, and higher animal welfare standards, including for fish.
- FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded by Heli Dungler in Vienna in 1988, FOUR PAWS focuses on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals kept in inappropriate conditions, as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With sustainable campaigns and projects, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term protection for suffering animals.
#CrueltyFreeEurope statement on moratorium on animal experimentation
In its response to a petition brought to the European Parliament’s Petitions Committee asking for a moratorium on experiments on animals while their value is being assessed, the Commission has once again said that it is fully committed to the ultimate goal of fully replacing animal tests.
Cruelty Free Europe – a network of animal protection organisations dedicated to bringing animal testing to an end in the European Union – welcomes that commitment but believes that it is now time to put in place a road map to turn words into a plan of action.
Cruelty Free Europe Director of Science Dr Katy Taylor said: “Now more than ever, the EU should show ambition to develop better science and turn to more humane and human relevant research and innovation. 95% of all drugs shown to be safe and effective in tests on animals fail in human trials. The cost of this failure is huge monetarily and for animals and people. If any other system were failing so comprehensively, surely it would long ago have been scrapped and other better solutions secured?”
“Back in 1993 – 27 years ago – in the fifth EU environmental action programme towards sustainability, a target was set to achieve as a priority by 2000 a 50% reduction in the number of vertebrate animals used for experimental purposes. By 1997, this action had been quietly dropped and the number of animal tests in Europe remains high. So we have heard the commitments before. It’s high time for change.”
The Commission’s response also highlights its efforts to encourage the development of non-animal methods to replace animal research. Cruelty Free Europe recognises the ground-breaking work that has been done in Europe through organisations like ECVAM, collaborations like the EPAA and Horizon funding, but says that much more needs to be done.
Dr Taylor continued: “Take the Horizon research programme where our calculations suggest that funding for Horizon 2020 projects claiming primary and secondary benefits for non-animal methods comes to a mere 0.1% of the total €80 billion programme for the period 2014 to 2020. Consider that whilst 48 Horizon projects in some way claim to contribute to non-animal methods, in the region of 300 cite the use of ‘animal models’ as part of their methodology. If Europe is serious about its goal of replacing animal experiments, then it needs to really put its money where its mouth is.”
In November 2019, a petition was submitted to the presidents of the European Commission and the European Parliament calling on the EU to carry out a systematic review of all research areas in which animals are used. In May this year, the European Parliament Committee on Petitions confirmed that the petition had been accepted as admissible and would be formally considered by the committee. Together with our European partners Cruelty Free Europe has been calling on the Commission to commit to a comprehensive plan with targets and timetables to bring an end to animal testing in the EU.
Farm animals suffer at EU borders due to #Coronavirus response, says Compassion in World Farming
With over 35 animal welfare NGOs, Compassion in World Farming sent a letter to EU leaders, asking them to adapt their response to COVID-19, since long border delays are resulting in animal suffering. We called on the EU to ban the transport of farm animals to non-EU countries, as well as journeys that last over eight hours.
Compassion in World Farming is concerned that in the new EU guidelines for border management, published this week, the EU Commission insists that the transport of live animals between EU countries must continue. These guidelines disregard the severe problems imposed on the health and welfare of farm animals being transported, especially those transported between EU and non-EU countries.
Vehicles with farm animals are being refused entry to Croatia. There are traffic queues of 40 km at the border between Lithuania and Poland and queues on the German side of the border with Poland of 65 km leading to waiting times of 18 hours. Vehicles with farm animals are also getting caught up in very long queues at the exit point between Bulgaria and Turkey – drivers transporting farm animals reported to Animals’ Angels that they needed three hours to move 300 m inside the border.
Queues at borders are stopping medical supplies and health professionals from getting through. It is even less likely that it will be possible to attend to the welfare of animals caught up in these queues.
Moreover, there is a real risk that countries close their borders without having any infrastructure in place to cater to the needs of the transported animals, and provide what is required by EU law, such as food, water and places to rest.
Compassion in World Farming’s Chief Policy Advisor Peter Stevenson said: “Due to the increased border control delays resulting from COVID-19, in many cases the transport of farm animals cannot be carried out in a way that is compliant with EU law. The EU Transport Regulation requires that animals are moved without delay to the place of destination, and that animals’ needs are met during the journey. Insisting on continued transport of animals in such conditions is irresponsible and inhumane and disregards the EU treaty, which stipulates that EU law and policies must pay full regard to animal welfare.”
Compassion in World Farming’s Head of EU Office Olga Kikou said: “The trade in live animals threatens not only the health and well-being of the animals, but it also threatens our health. The drivers, animal handlers, vets, civil servants and their families can easily get infected. Unlike others who enter and exit the EU, they are not required to be in quarantine. We are putting them and ourselves at risk. We are faced with never-before seen measures to contain the spread of the virus as an increasing number of European countries enter lockdowns. Nonetheless, we allow live animals to be transported everywhere, while the health authorities advise people to stay at home. This a double standard! The trade in live animals cannot be considered a crucial sector providing essential services to society. This absurdity needs to stop!”
For over 50 years, Compassion in World Farming has campaigned for farm animal welfare and sustainable food and farming. We have over one million supporters and representations in eleven European countries, the US, China, and South Africa.
EU food safety agency criticizes #RabbitCages
The EU food safety agency has criticized the use of conventional cages for rabbit farming in a new study. The international NGO Compassion in World Farming welcomes this report and calls on the European Commission to use the latest scientific evidence and improve the lives of rabbits in the EU.
In the new report, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that the welfare of rabbits is lower in conventional cages, compared to other systems. For adult rabbits, the key welfare issue is that their movement is restricted. EFSA also concludes that organic systems are generally good.
This study follows a request by the European Parliament. In 2017, following an enthusiastic campaign by the supporters of Compassion in World Farming, the European Parliament called on the EU Commission to propose new legislation with minimum standards for farmed rabbits, and asked EFSA to produce this scientific study.
Olga Kikou, head of Compassion in World Farming EU, said: “Today, the EU food safety agency issued a scientific opinion, shedding light on the hard fate of the millions of rabbits, silently suffering in cages across the EU for all of their lives. We call on the new EU Commission to listen to the advice of this agency and take measures to better protect rabbits. This includes proposing new, species-specific legislation for rabbits, which is lacking at the moment. This would be a big win for animals across Europe, as rabbits are the second most farmed species in the EU in terms of numbers.”
Olga continued: “We also call on the new European Commission to ban cages for all animals, including hens, sows, calves, ducks and geese. When caged, these animals live in similarly miserable conditions and cannot perform the most basic natural behaviors. The recent European Citizens’ Initiative to End the Cage Age has made it crystal clear that EU citizens care deeply about farm animals, and that they want them out of cages. The EU must finally show leadership and do something about the concerns of its citizens.”
- For over 50 years, Compassion in World Farming has campaigned for farm animal welfare and sustainable food and farming. We have over one million supporters and representations in eleven European countries, the US, China, and South Africa.
- Today, EFSA also published two other opinions on the stunning methods of rabbits and the killing of rabbits for reasons other than meat production. The reports that EFSA released today are the following:
- Scientific opinion on health and welfare of rabbits farmed in different production systems
- Scientific opinion concerning stunning methods and slaughter of rabbits for human consumption
- Scientific opinion concerning the killing of rabbits for reasons other than meat production
- The use of rabbit cages is banned or limited in several EU member states:
- Austria, banned for rabbits raised for meat (2012)
- Belgium, banned for meat rabbits or breeding females (2025)
- Netherlands, ban of barren cages (2016)
- Germany, ban of barren cages (2024)
- In Europe, more than 300 hundred million animals spend much of their lives in cages, which are cruel and completely unnecessary. The End the Cage Age European Citizens’ Initiative, supported by over 170 NGOs, collected over 1,6 million signatures and surpassed the minimum threshold in 21 EU Member States (subject to validation): Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. For more information, please read our report on caged farming in Europe [Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Polish and Spanish].
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