Live animal exports from the UK will continue after MEPs rejected a bid by Greens to set a strict eight-hour time limit on the transportation of live animals to slaughter.
Adoption of unequivocal support for an eight-hour limit for all animals transported to slaughter, which was proposed by the Green group in the Parliament, would have put pressure on the Commission to come forward with a legislative proposal.
In turn this would mean an end to the vast majority of UK live exports, where animals exported from Ramsgate and other UK ports currently have to endure long journeys, often in cramped and dangerous conditions.
Today’s vote, apart from being a blow for animal welfare, also rides roughshod over the concept of citizen involvement in EU decision-making: more than one million people have signed a petition calling for an eight-hour limit to be imposed which was handed to European Commissioner John Dalli earlier this year.
However, the position adopted by the Parliament today does accept that improvements in animal welfare during transport are needed, and calls for animals to be slaughtered locally where possible.
Keith Taylor, South-East England’s Green Party MEP, who has long campaigned against all live animal exports, said:
“Greens were attempting to further embed the idea of an eight-hour maximum journey time for animals going to slaughter as promoted by the recent million-strong petition.
“This would have put much-needed pressure on the European Commission to propose legislation on this and effectively to put a stop to the vast majority of live animal exports through UK ports like Ramsgate.
“I’m surprised and disappointed that many MEPs who have signed a Parliamentary Declaration calling for an eight-hour maximum transport time did not support our calls for the same today.
“The vote today did not go as far as Greens believe was necessary, but it’s at least a step in the right direction and we will continue to call for improvements so that animals transported for slaughter can be better protected.”
London Green Party MEP Jean Lambert added:
“Today’s vote sends a strong message that we need to strengthen EU rules on animal transport to give greater attention to animal welfare concerns. While this is clearly welcome, we regret the failure of a majority of MEPs to support a clear call for an 8 hour limit on animal transport times.
“Long distance transport of animals, often in poor conditions, leads to distress for the animals involved. The Greens believe current EU legislation needs to be improved, with a view to ensuring less-crowded transport conditions and better protection for wounded animals.
“Clearly the actual journey time is one of the major animal welfare issues with regard to animal transport. Limiting transport times to eight hours in the EU would be a major step forward and I deeply regret the failure of MEPs to clearly support this call.”
The Parliament’s position will now pass to the European Commission for its consideration.