This week, the Green Party's animals spokesperson, Keith Taylor MEP, joined a majority of MEPs in a groundbreaking vote calling for strong action to end the suffering of farm animals being transported for slaughter.
The European Parliament in Strasbourg voted on Thursday [14 February] 411 to 43 to pass the Implementation Report on the Protection of Animals During Transport Within and Outside the EU, co-authored by Mr Taylor, Vice Chair of the Animal Welfare Intergroup.
With a groundswell of public support in the UK and across the EU for putting an end to the 'barbaric' live exports trade, the European Parliament voted:
- For a maximum journey time of eight hours for live animals (an effective ban on exports from the UK) and a one and a half hour limit on unweaned animals due to the difficulty in ensuring their welfare.
- To call for a ban on third country exports where animal transport standards are not aligned with the EU's and a bilateral agreement hasn't been struck to raise standards.
- To call on the EU administration to develop a strategy to ensure a shift from live animal transport to a mainly meat-and-carcass trade.
- To call on the EU administration and member countries to support and promote, where needed, the options for on-farm slaughter, economically viable local or mobile slaughter, and meat processing facilities within member countries; so that animals are slaughtered as close as possible to their place of rearing.
The vote demands the issues be urgently addressed within the next parliamentary term. The current term will end before this summer's elections to the European Parliament.
Welcoming the vote, Mr Taylor said:
"Every year, at least one billion chickens and poultry and 37 million live cows, pigs, sheep, goats and horses are transported within the EU and further afield. It is unacceptable that these animals have to endure the barbaric conditions of excruciatingly long journeys."
"I am proud to have co-led on a report on the issue that has garnered such cross-party support and marked such a positive outcome for hundreds of millions of animals across the EU."
"If these rules are adopted in the UK, particularly a maximum journey time of eight hours, it would be an effective ban on the live exports trade as we know it. They simply wouldn't have the time to reach their continental destinations. That would be a huge win for animal welfare advocates."
Mr Taylor, who has campaigned on live exports for years (most recently he marked Jill Phipps memorial day in Ramsgate with campaigners) and commissioned a report looking into the impact of Brexit on the trade, continued:
"The momentum for action is building at an EU level for a crackdown on the barbarism of live exports while the UK government's quietly distancing itself from the promises made by Brexit campaigning Ministers to ban the trade outright post-Brexit. I have always maintained that leaving the European Union wasn't the easy solution Brexiters painted it to be."
"Our ultimate aim is to put an end to this squalid trade once and for all. To do that, we must reduce the amount of meat we eat and shift from a trade in live animals to a trade in meat. This vote is an important step in the right direction. Now is the time to follow up with swift concrete action."
Read Keith's Animals and Brexit report below
The vote comes two years after the #StoptheTrucks campaign received over one million signatures, from citizens across the EU, calling for decision makers to reduce and ultimately end long-distance live animal transportation.