The European Commission has publicly responded to the WSPA-led Handle with Care coalition’s demands for better enforcement of existing EU legislation on animal transportation and – in the longer term – a complete end to long distance transport.
Animals transported across Europe to slaughter suffer from hunger, thirst, exhaustion and injuries caused by overcrowding and long journeys. While the EU has good legislation setting out the conditions for live transport, all too often these are not enforced, with grim consequences for the animals.
With chilled and frozen meats – slaughtered humanely close to the point of rearing – widely available, this cruelty is not even necessary to deliver fresh meat to consumers.
In the letter, the Commission said it had received many e-mails and letters from animal welfare supporters and that it "shares your views concerning the need for better application of the animal transport legislation and is working intensively on the improvement of animal welfare during transport, dedicating considerable efforts to this issue."
The letter continued: "The Commission believes that the present time limits are not fully in line with scientific knowledge and are also inconsistent with the social legislation applicable to drivers, making the overall implementation of transport times difficult.“
To read more of the scientific research behind Handle with Care’s campaign, please read our summary report >>
Actions speak loudest
The letter’s final piece of good news was that "the Commission considers the revision of travelling times and stocking densities a priority."
Given this, we expect to see concrete action taken by the European Commission before the end of its mandate next May, specifically in limiting transport times for horses (and possibly other animals) intended for slaughter.
This call is supported by a comprehensive scientific report recently released by World Horse Welfare. The report provides evidence of poor horse welfare resulting from long distance journeys from Romania, Poland and other Eastern European countries to Italy, where they can be slaughtered and the product misleadingly labelled as ‘Italian horsemeat’.