Historic victory: European parliamentary inquiry into live animal transport thanks to the Party for the Animals
Last Friday, a majority of the European Parliament voted in favour of the Dutch Party for the Animals’ request to establish an inquiry committee to investigate serious abuses during animal transports. It is the first time in history that a European parliamentary inquiry will be held into animal welfare. “This committee can put a stop to the cruel suffering of millions of live animals that are transported in Europe every single day,” according to MEP Anja Hazekamp of the Party for the Animals.
Hazekamp asked for the inquiry committee to be installed following continued reports of cruel situations that animals end up in during transport. Hazekamp also visited a number of European ports herself. “Animals were transported in extreme heat, mistreated and loaded onto horror ships that were completely unsuitable for transport. This parliamentary inquiry committee will investigate thoroughly how it is possible that licences are granted over and over again for animal transports that are conducted under illegal circumstances. We want to make sure that all EU countries abide by the regulations and that they stop permitting animal transports in extreme heat as well as long-distance transports to countries outside Europe,” according to Hazekamp.
A European parliamentary inquiry is quite a rarity. Previous inquiry committees that were established by the European Parliament conducted investigations into the Panama Papers (2016), Dieselgate (2015) and the BSE crisis (1996). Such committees have the power to call up witnesses and experts and to ask for documents from national and European government services. EU countries that refuse to cooperate risk criminal proceedings.
Slow and steady wins the race
Last week's historic victory achieved by the Party for the Animals is the crowning glory of years of fighting and preparations. Last year, on the first meeting day of the newly elected European Parliament, Anja Hazekamp called on her colleagues, who had just taken office, to support an inquiry committee. “The current European regulations for animal transports have existed for fifteen years, but animals are still not protected properly. “Abuse, extreme temperatures and lack of water, food, space and fresh air are an everyday occurrence.”
In the same year, the Party for the Animals called on the European Commission to undertake criminal proceedings against Romania, where many European animal transports start their journey - in many cases to the Middle East. The fact that the European regulations on animal transport are indeed systematically infringed, was confirmed this spring by the official inspection that the European Commission had carried out as a result of this call.
Last spring, the Party for the Animals had already gathered enough support to submit its proposal for a parliamentary inquiry, and this proposal was finally - after previous delay - voted on last week. The inquiry committee was approved with a huge majority of 605 out of 689 votes, finally putting the abuse in animal transports high on the agenda. “An important step towards a Europe where such transports will never be conducted again”, according to Hazekamp. “The animals have waited and suffered long enough, it is time for action!”