The European Union has been an advocate of animal welfare for more than 40 years and is widely recognised as a global leader, with some of the world’s best animal welfare standards. EU rules have also positively influenced legislation in non-EU countries. They mainly concern farm animals (on the farm, during transport and at slaughter), but also wildlife, laboratory animals and pets. In December 2021, Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals during Transport (ANIT) wrapped up its work of 18 months, concluding that EU animal welfare rules are not always complied with in member states - and do not fully take into account animals’ different transport needs. The most obvious violations include a lack of headroom, water or food supply for transported animals, the shipping of animals unfit for transport and overcrowding. Vehicles that are inappropriate for transporting animals are being used, and transport sometimes take place under extreme temperature and extended journey times. To remedy the situation, the draft recommendations call on the EU Commission to update the current EU rules, to establish limits on journey time for all animal species and ages, ban the transport of very young animals below the age of 35 days, and bolster controls on live animal export. MEPs also advocate a transition to a more efficient and ethical system, that favours the transport of semen and embryos over breeding stock, and carcasses and meat over animals being moved for slaughter.
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