Not good enough: EU's animal protection falls short in live transport and fur farming
The EU Commission has revealed its revised regulations on live animal transport and fur farming today but the outcome is disappointing and not good enough to protect animals.
Around 1.6 billion animals are transported to and from the European Union each year. The recently introduced regulations supposedly seek to curtail travel durations, enhance the minimum space allocated for animals and prohibit transportation in conditions of extreme temperatures.
Unfortunately, the proposal has raised concerns at World Animal Protection UK, with several key points falling short of the desired standards.
Firstly, the proposal allows the continued export of live farm animals to non-EU countries, with insufficient guarantees for the implementation of European Court of Justice rulings ensuring animal protection during transport.
Unfortunately, the regulations also do not fully address the potential distress or harm caused by transporting animals in extreme temperatures within lorries or containers and there's a lack of specific criteria to assess the fitness of animals for transport, despite the requirement for such assurance under legislation.
While the proposal includes some more positive aspects like real-time traceability for live animal consignments, these measures are minimal and do not align with the ambitious goals outlined in the European Green Deal for overhauling animal welfare rules. The transport of farmed animals is undeniably cruel and distressing and should be as short as possible.
The Live Transport regulation was promised as one of a series of Animal Welfare laws released by the end of this year which we have seen either delayed or watered-down.
Another significant setback is the Commission's response to the 'Fur Free Europe' initiative, where 1.5 million citizens urged an end to fur farming across the EU.
The European Commission has requested a scientific opinion and pledged to make a decision by March 2026 regarding the potential implementation of a ban, which is a completely unnecessary delay. Furthermore, the European Commission's indication that they "will also consider whether to take other measures to ensure the welfare of farmed fur animals" is disconcerting.
Right across the EU, wild animals including racoon dogs, minks and foxes are kept in tiny cages where they suffer their whole lives and are unable to display their natural behaviour until their are brutally killed for their fur. Animal welfare in fur farming systems can never be guaranteed given the intrinsically harsh conditions associated with it.
Apart from the obvious absence of animal welfare standards in fur farms, there's a significant risk of zoonotic disease outbreaks, as witnessed in mink farms during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fur farms also contribute to pollution and exacerbate the climate crisis.
In the EU, 20 Member States have already either fully or partially banned fur farming or imposed stricter measures, citing concerns about animal welfare, the environment, and public health.
Kelly Dent, World Animal Protection’s Director of External Engagement said:
“Though any step towards better animal welfare is welcome, the revision of the live transport regulation falls well short of what citizens expected from the European Union and does not live up to the EU’s values.
“The European Commission must release ambitious proposals regarding animal welfare in the coming months that will end systems of cruel industrial farming forever and listen to its citizens and eradicate fur farms and the trade in fur forever.
”The EU has a reputation as a world leader on animal welfare. It must not let this slip.”
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The Live Transport regulation was promised as one of a series of Animal Welfare laws released by the end of this year which we have seen either delayed or watered-down