EU reforms welfare rules for transport of animals

Existing transport rules are 20 years old
calendar icon 15 December 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

As announced by our Farm to Fork Strategy, the European Green Deal's agenda for sustainable agriculture and food production, the Commission has proposed the biggest reform of EU animal welfare rules during transport in 20 years, according to a government-issued press release

The package includes an overhaul of the current EU rules for animals in transport, which will improve the wellbeing of the 1.6 billion animals transported in and from the EU each year. The new rules reflect the latest scientific evidence and insights as well as technological developments.

Existing EU rules for animals in transport are 20 years old. They no longer reflect current realities, latest scientific insights and advice, sustainability goals or legitimate concerns of citizens when it comes to animal welfare. The proposal therefore focusses on key areas, vital to ensure good animal welfare in transport:

  • Travel times will be shortened and during long journeys, animals must be unloaded for periods of rest, feeding and watering. Special rules will apply to animals for slaughter, and to vulnerable animals such as unweaned calves and pregnant animals.
  • Allowances to ensure minimum space for the different animals will be increased and adapted to each species.
  • Transport in extreme temperatures will be subject to strict conditions, including limiting transportation solely to night-time when temperatures exceed 30 degrees. In addition, when temperatures are below 0°C, road vehicles shall be covered and air circulation in the animal compartment controlled, in order to protect animals from exposure to windchill during the journey. If temperatures drop below -5°C, along with the previously mentioned measures, travel duration should not surpass 9 hours.
  • Rules for the exports of live animals from the Union will be tightened, including better controls in third countries to meet equivalent standards as those found in the EU.
  • The Commission will make the maximum out of digital tools to facilitate the enforcement of transport rules (e.g. real-time positioning of vehicles; central database).
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