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Health and Consumer Protection

Press releases

Brussels, 9 April 2001

Animal transport: Commission adopts proposal to improve conditions for the long distance transportation of animals

The European Commission has today adopted a proposal setting out new rules for the long distance transport of horses, cattle, goats, sheep and pigs. The proposal introduces science-based standards for ventilation, temperature and humidity control in lorries carrying livestock on journeys longer than eight hours. Lorries must also be equipped with a monitoring and warning system recording humidity and temperature. The new rules are based on scientific advice and on a Commission report of last year identifying health and welfare problems during long distance transport.

"I am pleased that we are now moving forward to make concrete improvements in the health and welfare of animals transported over long distances" , David Byrne , Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection said. "Long-distance transport should be the exception rather than the rule. When it is necessary, it must take place under conditions that do not endanger the animals or cause unnecessary suffering. I want it to be absolutely clear that we are taking the problems identified with animal transport very seriously, and that we will do everything that is within our competence to address them. Today's proposal is one more step in that direction".

The new rules are based on the advice of the Scientific Committee for Animal Health and Animal Welfare. The Committee concluded that thermal stress is one of the major health and welfare problems of animals during transport. The Committee defined the range of temperature and humidity that is within acceptable limits for the transportation of different types of animals. The scientists also recommended that vehicles should have a monitoring and warning system recording temperature and humidity so that remedial action can be taken when necessary.

The costs of the new rules, estimated to be between 3 and 5 % of the total cost of the lorry, have to be weighed against the benefits, both in terms of animal welfare and in economic terms. Improved ventilation reduces mortality during travel and the animals arrive at their destination in a healthier condition.

Today's proposal aims to upgrade existing Community rules on the protection of animals during transport. The current legislation already requires that transport of all animals be undertaken only by officially authorised transport companies, and must respect maximum loading densities and maximum travel times. Transports of animals over 8 hours are conditional upon the authorisation of a route plan, the use of upgraded vehicles, and the respect of resting time at approved staging points for feeding, watering etc.

The proposal will be submitted to the Council for adoption. The European Parliament will be consulted on the Commission's proposal. Once adopted by the Council, new vehicles will have to be equipped according to the new standards from the first of January next year. Older vehicles will have to meet the new standards no later than 31 December 2003

The full text of the proposal is available at
http://ec.europa.eu/food/fs/aw/aw_transport_init_en.html

The report of the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare concerning the microclimate inside animal transport road vehicles is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/food/fs/sc/scah/out35_en.html

Released on 10/04/2001

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FOOD SAFETY | PUBLIC HEALTH | CONSUMER PROTECTION | DIRECTORATE GENERAL "HEALTH & CONSUMER PROTECTION"

 
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