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Health and Consumer Protection

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Luxembourg, 23 October 2001

Welfare of animals during transport - Council approves mandate for negotiating international rules

The Agriculture Council meeting today in Luxembourg agreed to mandate the European Commission to negotiate on behalf of the Community the ongoing review of the European Convention of the Council of Europe for the protection of animals during international transport. This convention is legally binding once adopted. The negotiation mandate covers all areas which fall into Community competence. Matters of national competence like transport of animals for non-commercial reasons and transport less than 50km will be negotiated by the Member States. Agriculture Ministers defined also guidelines for these negotiations: the Commission must seek to ensure that a high level of animal protection is extended to international animal transports outside the borders of the European Union, and that the provisions of the new convention are in line with existing Community legislation. Subsequent scientific developments and practical experience have to be taken into account. The rules of the new Convention are expected to be agreed in 2002.

"I welcome the mandate of since it will allow the Community to speak with a single and a strong voice in these important negotiations", Commissioner David Byrne for Health and Consumer Protection said today. "The protection of animals during long distance transport is an area of particular concern, notably its international dimension. Therefore the final shape and form of the Council of Europe's revised Convention will be an important beacon for progress towards further internationally accepted animal transport rules."

The original European Convention for the protection of animals during international transport came into force in 1971. All EU Member States are parties to the Convention, as well as Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Iceland, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Switzerland and Turkey. Up to date, the European Community is not a contracting party to the Convention.

In 1995 the contracting parties decided to update the rules of the Convention in the light of new scientific knowledge and practical experience gained in its implementation. The Council of Europe has proposed a revised set of rules for the Convention for agreement by March 2002.

Animal transport within the EU is regulated by Directive 91/628/EEC, which was updated in 1995. Its rules apply to all transport of live animals for commercial purposes and require in particular that:

* only transporters that are approved by national authorities can transport live animals within the EU;

* travel time does not exceed eight hours, unless a route plan for long-distance journeys is provided, upgraded vehicles are used and compulsory resting time for feed and water are respected;

The Treaty of Amsterdam, in force since May 1999, lays out new ground rules for the actions of the European Union on animal welfare in a special " Protocol on the Protection and Welfare of Animals". It recognises that animals are sentient beings and obliges the European Institutions to pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals when formulating and implementing Community legislation.

Further information on EU policy, legislation in force and ongoing initiatives with regard to the protection of animals during transport is available at:


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