Live animal transport: our report presented at the European Parliament

Chiara Caprio
Institutional relations manager

This morning the meeting Essere Animali’s investigations on the transport of live animals in Italy was held at the European Parliament. We organised the meeting together with Eurogroup for Animals to present our new report dedicated to the investigations we have conducted over the last three years.

The report analyses the checks we have carried out in Italy and the shortcomings of the current European legislation, European Regulation 1/2005, which will be the subject of the EU Commission’s proposed revision by the end of the year. The presentation and the debate that followed were also an opportunity for Italian MEPs and MEPs from other European countries – from various parliamentary groups – to exchange views on such a complex and important issue in order to truly guarantee compliance with higher welfare standards in the EU.

The event was organised in cooperation with MEP Niels Fuglsang (S&D, Denmark), Vice-President of the Intergroup on Animal Welfare in the European Parliament and Chairman of the subgroup working on live animal transport. Several MEPs took part, belonging to different countries and groups, such as – among the Italians – MEP Tiziana Beghin (NI – 5 Star Movement) and MEPs Rosa D’Amato (Greens) and Anna Cinzia Bonfrisco (ID – League).

© Essere Animali

«The key priorities for the Commission’s review proposal must be the 8-hour limit for all transport and the ban on transport for pregnant and unweaned animals. Another crucial aspect is the ban on transport outside the EU. We believe that these points and animal welfare should be included in the election programmes for the next European elections in 2024 and we will work in this direction,» said MEP Niels Fuglsang during his speech.

Other MEPs also spoke, such as Francisco Guerreiro (Greens, Portugal), who emphasised that «the role of the European parties in including these demands in the electoral programmes is crucial».

Long and cruel transport

Every year more than one billion animals are transported in Europe, both to non-EU countries and within Europe’s borders. According to the latest report released at the end of 2022 by the Ministry of Health on the activity carried out by the Border Control Posts (PCF) and the Veterinary Offices for Community Compliance (UVAC), in 2021 the following animals were imported into Italy from other EU countries: 1.4 million pigs, 1.3 million cattle, 790 thousand sheep and over 56 million poultry, most of which were 1-day-old chicks.

Our investigations, which began in 2021 and ran until Easter 2023, focused on two of the main problems affecting our country: the long-distance transport of lambs and the very high temperatures that affect animals during transport, even over short distances, in the summer.

Our last inspections at Easter this year showed the terrible suffering to which the animals are still subjected, with conditions so painful that Italian vets were forced to slaughter some animals on lorries following an association report to the relevant authorities. In particular, the lambs transported over long distances often travel in overcrowded conditions, without the possibility of access to food and water and without protection from dangerous gaps that often cause injuries and end up trapping body parts of these fragile and very young animals.

The ANIT Commission and our demands

In recent years, the European Parliament has tried, with the Committee of Inquiry into the Transport of Live Animals (ANIT), to document the limitations of current legislation, but MEPs have failed to take a clearer and more effective position on the issue. Investigations carried out also in recent weeks show that animal transport is one of the phases of production with the most violations, the least protection for animals and continuous suffering and mistreatment that can no longer be ignored.

We hope that the Commission will take into account this evidence and the scientific evidence also highlighted in the latest EFSA opinions (2022) and propose a revision that can truly protect animals during this phase, raising animal welfare standards and initiating, at the same time, a transition to meat and carcass transport.