Party for the Animals fights to improve European Commis­sion’s newly published animal welfare plans

24 ינואר 2024

The European Commission has finally published part of the legislative proposals for the improvement of animal welfare it had been promising to address for some time. The current animal transport regulations will be revised, and a European-wide obligation to chip dogs and cats will be introduced in order to combat the illegal trafficking in pets and improve these animals’ welfare. “After many years of insistence on our part, legislative proposals to tackle animal suffering in Europe are finally being addressed in concrete terms. This an important first step, as the current legislation is outdated and has some serious shortcomings. Today, 8.4 billion animals are kept in the European agricultural industry and 44% of European households have a companion animal. All these animals are in urgent need of better protection,” responded Anja Hazekamp, MEP for the Party for the Animals.

Dogs and cats

“Mandatory registration of dogs and cats in Europe will help combat the illegal trade in pets and animal cruelty. It is estimated that around 73 million dogs and 84 million cats live in the EU. We are optimistic about the European Commission’s proposal,” said Hazekamp. Nevertheless, the proposal falls short on a number of aspects: “The registration obligation does not extend to stray dogs and cats, although the European Parliament had specifically requested this – at the initiative of the Party for the Animals. Proper identification and registration are indispensable for reducing the number of stray animals in Europe. In Eastern Europe, it is imperative that stray dogs are registered in order to combat the cruel killing of these animals. The Party for the Animals will submit amendment proposals in the European Parliament to have stray dogs included in these regulations,” Hazekamp said.

Animal transport

Hazekamp calls the revised animal transport rules “very disappointing”. In recent years, the MEP personally witnessed several animal transports in the EU and at its borders. “If these become the new regulations, a stop will never be put to the harrowing transport of live animals by sea, road and even air. Even long-distance transport to the Middle East and other corners of the world will remain possible under the new regulations,” confirms Hazekamp.

Maximum transport times will be reduced only slightly compared to the current situation, but still remain far too long. Animals such as chicks, rabbits, pigs, cattle, sheep, goats and horses can still be in transit for several days. These animals may be transported for two consecutive twenty-one-hour periods, provided they can rest for twenty-four hours in between. Very young calves (from the age of five weeks) and other unweaned animals may be transported for two consecutive nine-hour periods under the new regulations, provided they are granted a one-hour rest period between hauls. No time limit whatsoever is imposed on maritime transport. “That is unacceptable,” says Hazekamp.

Part of the proposals promised by the EC found missing

The Party for the Animals noted earlier that a substantial portion of the proposals concerning animal welfare that the European Commission had promised to publish were missing from the package presented by the European Commission. This includes the previously announced ban on cages in the livestock industry, improvements in the conditions under which livestock are kept, the labelling of animal products and tightened rules for slaughterhouses. “We will do everything we can to finally get these proposals on the table. Aside from this, we aim to tighten the animal transport regulations currently presented by the EC by submitting proposals for amendment. We must put a definitive stop to animal suffering during transport,” said Hazekamp.