Agriculture ministers oppose ban on transport of live animals outside EU borders –

Several EU agriculture ministers have joined forces to oppose a possible ban on the movement of live animals to third countries, but the Commission is stressing the need to be assertive about animal welfare.

Animal welfare was the main topic of discussion at the first Agricultural Council of the year on Monday (January 30).

In 2022, the European Commission assessed the current EU legislation on animal welfare and concluded that it needed to be revised.

At the same time, a series of recent high-profile cases of livestock stranded at sea have prompted the EU executive to develop acts and delegated acts aimed at improving official controls on ships carrying livestock within existing legislation. adopted at the end of the year.

The idea of ​​banning the export of live animals outside the EU borders was raised in the context of this debate, but it became a point of contention among Member States, as nine of them came together to oppose such a thing. measure.

According to the Portuguese Minister Maria do Céu Antunes, who took the helm of the coalition, the purpose of the review should be to guarantee. “High level of animal welfare in intra-Community trade and export of live animals” not a complete ban.

The minister noted that the transportation of animals is one of the most important “The Most Visible Parts of Animal Production”he “Capture the attention and concerns of our audience”.

Other ministers followed suit, stressing that the investigation should focus on the conditions of transport of live animals to third countries, rather than simply banning them.

“This is a very sensitive issue for the livestock sector of our country, like other peripheral countries of the EU”Spanish Minister of Agriculture Luis Planas, his French counterpart Marc Fesneau, added the ban on the export of animals. “It will cause disruption of the production chain”.

However, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, emphasized that she had no hesitation in the face of scientific evidence. “Inaction is not a solution”.

“If science and experience tell us that certain transport practices are detrimental to animal welfare, you’ll agree with me that we need to consider ways to adapt those practices.”he said.

Other member states, including Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, supported this position.

“We cannot continue to watch animals die in pain on the road or suffer needlessly”Minister of Germany Cem Ozdemir said on the sidelines of the Council.

“In Germany, we have done our work on transport to third countries”he noted “However, we urgently need to find common rules in Europe to prevent national rules from being exceeded”.

In November, Germany took measures at the national level to limit as much as possible the movement of live animals to third countries and announced that veterinary certificates for cattle, sheep and goats would be withdrawn by mid-2023.

Since a complete ban can only be imposed by the EU, Mr. Özdemir called on the entire Union to follow the example of Germany.

However, Mr. Özdemir also expressed his concern about this “The proposal can be passed in the context of the next European elections”.

A growing number of voices are calling on the Commission not to bow to pressure from EU agriculture ministers.

The European Parliament Intergroup on Animal Welfare and Protection sent a letter to Commissioner Stella Kyriakides before the Council meeting, stressing that it is impossible to ensure that animal welfare standards are respected outside the EU borders.

“You have the opportunity to lay the groundwork for revised transport rules that both meet the needs of animals and contribute to building a sustainable Europe”concludes the letter.

NGOs have also criticized the position of Portugal, which defends the “status quo” and prolongs the suffering of millions of animals.

“Many EU agriculture ministers do not care about the interests of the current status quo, which prolongs the unnecessary suffering of animals and continues to protect it. what a shame”Olga Kikou, Director of Compassion at World Farming EU said.

The current European legislation on the protection of animals during transport came into force in 2005.

In October 2022, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a scientific opinion stating that animal transport times should be reduced to improve the welfare of farm animals during transport and reduce the risk of the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

[Édité par Anne-Sophie Gayet]

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