The European commission is shortly expected to to amend its rules governing the transport of animals which - without amendment - will end Britain’s ban on the live export of horses, ponies and donkeys for slaughter.
See amendment and the urgent need for its adoption
April 26 - May 1 ~ Horse export disappointment "There is now nothing stopping the Government from going for a complete ban under the existing legislation..."
WMN quoting MEP Neil Parish "In theory they could be challenged by the European Commission, but in practice that seems very unlikely. We need ministers to have courage because the existing situation does not provide enough protection for our horses and ponies."
April 27 ~ "We are bitterly disappointed and frustrated..
that improvements to the current conditions in which horses are transported into and across the EU for slaughter, will not now be introduced. This was an opportunity to improve the current situation where horses and donkeys suffer unnecessarily due to excessively long journeys and lack of rest periods with many journeys taking days to reach the slaughter house. This is a situation that can now only get worse with the imminent enlargement of the EU and the loss of border inspection posts.” Jo White, Campaigns Manager at the ILPH
April 27 ~ "...a spokesman for Mr Michael last week refused to divulge whether Mrs Beckett would take public opinion on board...
and back an opt-out banning the export for slaughter of horses, ponies and donkeys.
Margaret Beckett, who along with her junior colleague, Minister for the Horse, Alun Michael, has consistently refused to ask for a clause protecting British horses, will meet fellow agriculture ministers from EU countries for the Council of Ministers meeting in Luxembourg. One of the items for discussion and vote is a draft EU Regulation on the transport of animals...." See WMN
April 26 2004 ~ Do you or do you not intend to press for the UK opt out?
James Gray's letter to Alun MichaelApril 14 2004 ~WMN keeps up the horse export pressure "...Mr Michael, and his colleague Secretary of State for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Margaret Beckett, have now promised to re-examine the case for an opt-out, in readiness for their crucial negotiations in Luxembourg on April 26 and 27, which represents the last time to secure legal protection for equines for the foreseeable future."
"As the Council of Ministers meets in Luxembourg I would now be most grateful for your confirmation of your general approach to the live export of horses for human consumption.Read press release
Do you or do you not intend to press for the UK opt out which I believe is now on offer from the European Parliament, and which the European Commission have publicly stated that they would be open to examining? If you do not intend to press for it, I would be grateful if you would let me know your reasoning for not doing so.
“Second, you continually say you intend to prevent the live export of horses by putting in place stringent welfare conditions which would have that effect for economic if for no other reason. However, with the exception of individual partitions to be used in transporting horses, restricted journeys for unbroken horses and ponies, and EU export health rules on fitness to travel, you have not even begun to spell out what these very stringent welfare conditions could be. Those of us who are sceptical need to be convinced that you are as determined as we are to prevent live export and we need to know precisely how you intend to do so.
“This matter is now a matter of grave concern to the public .....”
April 12 - 18 ~ Horse Exports. The Minister for the Horse questions the existence of a moral reason for a ban ....
Read the debate (Westminster Hall March 31) in full "...Mr. Gray : Perhaps I can assist my hon. Friend—this comes hot-foot from Strasbourg. I understand that the amendments state that it would be perfectly possible for member states to
"ban exports of certain species for moral reasons."
They would also allow a total national ban
"on the export of live equidae . . . for production or slaughter". in response to those amendments Commissioner Byrne said last night that the Commission supports stricter national rules:
"I am pleased that this would effectively maintain the UK's restriction on the export of horses destined for human consumption".
So, the European Parliament and the European Commission are happy for us to go ahead with the ban. ...
...Alun Michael : ..... Will the hon. Gentleman explain the moral grounds on which a ban might be founded? It is important to understand the principles of the approach that he is adopting. He is wrong to say that the opportunity is not being gripped by DEFRA; it is being gripped very firmly. .... "
Gregory Barker :.... ....I strongly believe that the British public would be horrified if we allowed our horses, even by default or with the best of intentions, to join the harrowing horse slaughter trade, in which economics dictates that noble creatures suffer a long, terrifying and degrading final journey. .."
...Bob Spink (Castle Point) (Con): ...... This is a matter of improper and unnecessary interference from the European Union. The EU Commission decision 200/68 is a disgraceful imposition on this country. Yet again we see new Labour eager to pander to the EU and its regulations and centralised control in a way that the people of this country increasingly seek to resist.
The horse passport is a disgraceful regulation. It is simply being pursued to feed the cruel and poorly regulated European slaughterhouses—largely to provide horsemeat for the salami trade, which is something that people in this country find repugnant. We should seek to stop the live export for slaughter of all animals from this country, not seek to extend it to horses. ... " Read debate in full
April 1 ~ HINT OF U-TURN ON LIVE HORSE EXPORTS
WMN "Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael last night hinted at a possible Government U-turn over the export of live horses for slaughter - as he came under intense pressure at Westminster to ban the "abhorrent" trade.
Speaking at the end of a 90-minute Commons debate on the issue Mr Michael, who is also the "Minister for the Horse", said the Government would examine the practical details of this week's vote in the European Parliament that would allow the UK to ban live horse exports. "It is interesting and it may be helpful," he said. "We are going to look at it in detail." ........
Mr Michael yesterday acknowledged that he had been besieged by thousands of letters from concerned members of the public on the issue. And he insisted that the Government did want to block any resumption of the live export trade. Commenting on the European Parliament's amendments this week he added: "We need to know how it would work in practice. "I certainly give a commitment to look at that very carefully to see if it gives us something we can use. We are not sure that it will, and I don't want to build up hopes, because I don't think it's the easy stroke that a resolution sometimes looks."
Mr Michael said the Government was still working on its preferred alternative, which would impose tight animal welfare restrictions on horse exports. Mr George said he would welcome any arrangement that would prevent the resumption of the live export trade. But he warned Mr Michael that he would prompt such public anger that he would be forced to resign if his plans failed to block the trade."
BLAIR WARNED OF 'DEEP UNREST' IF BAN FUDGED
WMN ".. Carla Lane has warned the Government it will face "deep unrest" if it fails to take up an available opt-out clause on live horse exports. Carla, writer of the BBC series Bread, says that if the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) allows live horse exports to go ahead, animal lovers will feel "trodden on". On Tuesday the European Parliament granted Britain an exemption from live exports, but only if the Government decides to use it. If it fails to, Carla is promising a "mass protest" - including a television appeal urging people to stay away from the polls...... "This is a classic example of how rule-making in Brussels is a farce. We are not a horse-eating country, but others are. There are different values involved but only one law."
April 1 ~ EXPORT HISTORY: UK BAN IS OBSOLETE
WMN "There is some confusion over the current level of protection in Britain against the trade of exporting live horses for slaughter. A ban was introduced in 1937 but became obsolete under the 1991 Animal Transportation Directive on the free movement of goods. This created a loophole in the law which horse exporters were keen to exploit. But when John Gummer was Agriculture Minister in 1991 he attempted to close the loophole by negotiating an "opt-out" to the new rules. It meant that rather than challenging the rules outright, horses worth less than £715 and ponies worth less than £220 could not be transported. As the price of horses and ponies being exported for meat would be significantly less than that, it effectively meant a back-door ban on the live export of equines.
However, when the directive was updated in 1995, this opt-out system collapsed. The significance of the removal of this clause did not appear to be noted by the then Ministry of Agriculture, but the issue was not highlighted by animal protection groups who were confident that animal exporters had not noticed the loophole. The removal of the UK opt-out finally came to light last July when Commissioner David Byrne published his EU White Paper on protecting animals during transportation. To have the UK opt-out enshrined in law Defra must argue the case at the Council of Ministers meeting in Brussels later this month . The opt-out was passed by the European Parliament earlier this week but needs the Council of Ministers to rubber stamp it before it can become law. "
March 31 ~ Horse Exports. The Amendment has been passed. BECKETT MUST NOW WIN BACKING FOR UK OPT-OUT
The Western Morning News "An amendment to the EU Regulation on animal transportation, which would allow the UK to keep its ban on the export of live horses, ponies and donkeys has been passed. Now the pressure is on the UK Government to press its fellow agriculture ministers to ensure that amendment becomes law...... because the Commissioner for Animal Welfare David Byrne has now supported the principle of an opt-out to allow Britain to ban the export of equines, it becomes harder for the UK Government to justify not asking their fellow EU agriculture ministers to back such a clause. ..... Defra officials have previously told the WMN that the ban would be illegal under EU law. " Read in full
March 31 ~ David Byrne says: "I am pleased that this would effectively maintain the UK’s restriction on the export of horses destined for human consumption"
Commissioner David Byrne said in his closing remarks at the European Parliament yesterday: “The Commission supports the proposal to open the possibility for the Member States to adopt stricter national rules provided that they are compatible with the Treaty. I am pleased that this would effectively maintain the UK’s restriction on the export of horses destined for human consumption. I have consistently said that I would look at this matter with a view to supporting a legally sustaining text"
James Gray, Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs:
“I am very pleased to have been able to arrive on horseback to Parliament today. I hope this calls attention to the purpose of this debate, which is to retain the current ban on the export of live horses to Europe for slaughter for human consumption. Regrettably, the British Government is planning to change the rules on the export of live horses but appears to be unwilling to continue the ban.See press release
This ban has been in place for 70 years and following yesterday’s decision in the European Parliament, the British Government could still retain it if they have the will to do so. I am glad that Commissioner David Byrne has endorsed the idea. I hope today’s debate will persuade the Government to think again."
March 30 2004 ~ No Live Exports Lobby takes fight to Europe
Western Morning News' campaign against the live export of horses ponies and donkeys
" will beat on the door of the European Parliament. As MEPs meet for a crunch vote on an amendment which would allow Britain to legally ban the cruel trade, a deputation from the Western Morning News and the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) will make Europe aware of the depth of public anger over the issue..... ....Read in full
... MEPs will vote on the amendment - tabled by Westcountry MEP Neil Parish - tomorrow, just hours before Minister for the Horse Alun Michael will face criticism in the House of Commons for refusing to lobby fellow EU agriculture ministers for an opt-out to protect British horses, ponies and donkeys.
.....if MEPs back it, it will be increasingly difficult for Mrs Beckett to argue that there is no support in Europe for an opt-out.
March 29 ~ James Gray protests against live export of horses "This practice has been banned for the last 70 years with good reason."
Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, James Gray MP, will be taking part in a debate against the export of live horses on Wednesday. He will arrive to the Palace of Westminster on horseback. The Chief Executive and Campaign Manager from International League for Protection of Horses will accompany him and will also be on horseback. Mr Gray says, “ I am certain that most people hate the idea of exporting our horses to be made into sausages and salami on the continent. I call on Alun Michael to withdraw the ridiculous horse passports regulation, and to stand up to the EU to prevent live horses being exported to EU slaughterhouses.”
March 27 2004 ~ Horses Campaign goes to Europe
Western Morning News (Saturday) WMN
"The Western Morning News campaign against the live export of horses, ponies and donkeys goes to Europe next week as MEPs meet for a crunch vote on an amendment which would allow Britain to legally ban the cruel trade.
The European Parliament meets in Strasbourg on Tuesday to debate putting an amendment into a draft EU Regulation aimed at improving the welfare of animals, to give legal basis in EU law for Britain to ban horse exports.
MEPs will vote on the amendment on Wednesday, hours before Minister of the Horse Alun Michael is due to come under fire in the House of Commons for refusing to lobby fellow EU agriculture ministers to obtain a ban for British equines.
If MEPs back the amendment, drafted by Westcountry MEP Neil Parish, there will be increasing pressure on the UK Government to argue for an opt-out clause in the EU draft Regulation, due to be voted on for the final time by ministers - including Britain's Margaret Beckett - at the meeting of the Council of Ministers in Brussels in April. Ministers could decide to remove the parliament's amendment, but if MEPs back it, it will add weight to the case Mrs Beckett would be able make to her European partners for an opt-out.
A deputation from the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) and the Western Morning News are travelling to Strasbourg to make MEPs aware of the depth of public anger about the issue. The ILPH will present a petition signed by 85,000 horse lovers to the parliament and the Western Morning News will present a special campaign front page - emblazoned with 65,982 - the number of signatures collected by the paper supporting the call for a ban.
Jo White, campaigns director for the ILPH, said: "Things are certainly starting to hot up. This is extremely important for us because if the European Parliament votes this through - and they are very supportive, with the European Commission looking at some way of obtaining a ban - this will step up the pressure on the Government."
Defra Minister Alun Michael is expected to face tough questions in the Commons on Wednesday afternoon from Tory countryside spokesman James Gray, who will arrive at the Houses of Parliament on horseback, about why he will not back an opt-out.
Mr Michael has previously refused to argue for an opt-out for Britain, on the advice of Defra officials who believe that such a move would have no basis in EU law and would be rejected outright by ministers from other member states.
But Kent Tory MP Roger Gale, who is the president of the Conservative animal welfare group, said: "It is generally believed by MPs of all parties that if our ministers were simply to take a robust line they would find that they were pushing at an open door and that the European Parliament and the Commission would recognise the strength of UK feeling over this issue and for the need for an opt-out to protect our animals not just for today, but for the future." email@example.com
March 21 - 28 2004 ~ Defra Urged to Act in Horse Export Row
By Amanda Brown, Environment Correspondent, PA News.
"The Government was urged today to stand up to the EU in a row over the export of live horses for slaughter.
The move comes amid fears that new draft EU regulations could allow the resumption of a live export trade – banned by the UK government since 1937 with the passing of the Exportation of Horses Act. This is because the draft rules do not currently include a provision to allow the UK to uphold protective legislation.
Minister of State for Rural Affairs Alun Michael is under pressure to act on this issue.
Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs James Gray said “This practice has been banned for the last 70 years with good reason.
“I am certain that most people hate the idea of exporting our horses to be made into sausages and salami on the continent. My Conservative colleagues in the European Parliament are working hard to persuade the Parliament to allow Britain an opt out clause. However, the British Government continues to be reluctant to fight for this. I call on Alun Michael to stand up to the EU to prevent live horses being exported to EU slaughterhouses.”
The International League for the Protection of Horses is lobbying both in Europe and the UK, not only to stop the resumption of live traffic, but also to improve the welfare during transport of 185,000 horses, ponies and donkeys slaughtered each year in the EU for human consumption.
The British Event Team has also signed up the ILPH campaign. Eventer Pippa Funnell, ranked number one in the world and recent Rolex Grand Slam winner, said “I cannot believe that every year tens of thousands of horses travel in misery for days on end across Europe for slaughter, just for somebody to eat. “We must not allow this traffic from the UK to start again. We owe it to our horses and ponies to protect them. “We must act now and support the ILPH.” The Scotsman
March 7 - 13 ~ DEFRA " “It is hard to make a case for the special treatment of horses.”
We find DEFRA's position with regard to the new EU Draft Regulation extraordinary. Alun Michael - Minister for the Horse - says in this letter that maintaining our position on not exporting horses for slaughter "is not an option". It is an option. The UK government have been handed a solution. Their refusal to engage with it is a national disgrace.
The amendment by Caroline Lucas (Green Party MEP) reads: "Member States may on grounds of public morality prohibit the export of horses ponies and donkeys destined for slaughter to other Member States or third countries."
We believe that she is still waiting for a response from Margaret Beckett to her urgent letter " If the Commission and more importantly, the Council, were to accept my amendment the UK would be able to retain its ban on the export of horses and ponies. ... Support from the UK government for my amendment is therefore crucial if we are not to see the beginning of a trade in live horses from the UK"
TheSunday Times headline implies that the matter is beyond solution: "... The lifting of the ban could lead to tens of thousands of British horses being exported each year. James Gray, Conservative spokesman on rural affairs, said: “The main market will be the horse abattoirs in southern Italy, which will mean these animals being on the road for days. It will be a cruel trade and I want this ban to remain in place.”
March 7 2004 ~ British horsemeat ban to be lifted
Tens of thousands of British horses could be sent for slaughter in continental abattoirs under government plans to lift a 70-year ban on the trade, writes Jonathan Leake. Horses are regarded as livestock in countries such as Italy and France, where horse steaks and salami made from the animals are widely eaten. In Britain horses cannot be exported live unless they are valued at more than £5,000, a rule that allows exports of racehorses but blocks trade in food animals. ..." Read in full
March 1 ~ Horse Passports - Discrepancies are set to cause further confusion among horse owners.
Horse and Hound "In Scotland, where legislation is on the same timetable as in England - the deadline being 30 June 2004 - owners can self-certify their horses’ passports.
In England, passport silhouettes must either be filled out by a vet, an “authorised person” or existing ID scanned from another document.
Legislation in Wales is expected to be finalised by autumn, after which owners will be granted a grace period to obtain passports. The Welsh Assembly has yet to decide on its identification policy, and concerns over the region’s hill ponies means it may, like Scotland, allow self-certification. ....."
To view HHO's guide to passport-issuing authorities, click here
Exporting horses for slaughter - Warmwell urges those who have not yet written to their MEP about the EU draft Regulation on the Protection of Animals during Transport to do so in order to keep up the pressure ...find out who your local MEP is by visiting the European Parliament at www.europarl.org.uk (See also warmwell inbox for the ILPH petition)
Feb 24 ~Any horse owner, or anyone with any humanity, should oppose this legislation
The EU draft Regulation on the Protection of Animals during Transport doesn't currently include a provision to allow the UK to uphold protective legislation. Western Morning News ...a last ditch bid to stop British horses and ponies being exported abroad for slaughter.....Opinion in the Westcountry has already been registered with Government ministers, through a powerful 65,000-strong WMN petition. This called on the Government to amend the draft EU legislation enabling Britain to outlaw the export of low-value horses, ponies and donkeys.
Now the pressure is turning firmly on MEPs to back the call...
...find out who your local MEP is by visiting the European Parliament at www.europarl.org.uk (See also warmwell inbox for the ILPH petition)
Feb 24 ~ David Byrne "The European Treaties recognise animals as sentient beings"
".... The necessity to raise the standards of protection for transported animals led the Commission to adopt in July 2003 a proposal for new European legislation. .... I hope that over the next couple of months that the spirit of compromise to improve transport standards will be evident among the Member States, otherwise a golden opportunity will be lost. ...
...I should mention here the main criticism often voiced by producers and certain sections of the food industry that higher welfare standards lead to higher production and supply costs. The experience within Europe has shown that there are no significant additional costs in improving animal protection. "Indeed, if such costs are experienced, they can be more than recovered by the price differential of superior more "animal welfare friendly" products, provided that these are effectively marketed and consumers properly informed.
.....there is still a considerable way to go as regards consumers translating their opinions on welfare issues into positive food choices, and I recognise that this represents a challenge to the food industry. ... I am personally delighted that the issue of animal welfare is now attracting such specific global focus." Part of Mr Byrne's speech OIE Global Conference on Animal Welfare Paris, 23 February 2004
- November 2003 Letter from Caroline Lucas to Commissioner Byrne "... if the Commission and Council were to accept the amendment I plan to table in Environment Committee Article 30 could then be used for allowing Member States to ban the export of horses for slaughter on grounds of public morality. The amendment, to Annex 1, Chapter V, paragraph 1a (new) will read:
"Member States may on grounds of public morality prohibit the export of horses ponies and donkeys destined for slaughter to other Member States or third countries." A clear amendment such as this would be much better than the half measures which you are currently discussing with the UK government. .."
- European Parliament: BRIEFING FOR UK MEMBERS Brief prepared 21 November 2003
Document No: COM (03) 425 ( the briefing is provided to MEPs by the UK government)
Title: Proposal for a Council Regulation on the Protection of Animals During Transport and Related Operations and Amending Directives 64/432/EEC and 93/119/EEC
- Nov 2003 Letter from DEFRA (Alun Michael) "Our existing GB rules have ensured that only animals that were fit to travel were exported to Europe..our rules also prevented the export of aged, unfit or low value ponies and working horses....it has become clear that maintaining our current arrangements is not an option...we believe that developing robust and properly policed measures at EU level ...is the central policy to pursue..."
- Feb 2004 Letter to Margaret Beckett from Dr Caroline Lucas
" I have been requested by a number of my constituents to urge you to support my amendment and defend the opt out which currently allows the UK to retain the Minimum Values Order, thereby prohibiting the export of horses and ponies from the UK.
If the Commission and more importantly, the Council, were to accept my amendment the UK would be able to retain its ban on the export of horses and ponies. ... Support from the UK government for my amendment is therefore crucial if we are not to see the beginning of a trade in live horses from the UK. I would therefore be grateful if you would outline what action the UK has taken in the Council to prevent this from happening .."
DR. CAROLINE LUCAS
Green Member of the European Parliament
for the South East of the UK
17th November 2003
Commissioner David Byrne
DG Health & Consumer Protection
Rue de la Loi 200
I write further to our exchange in Plenary on Tuesday 21st October concerning the transport of horses. Since our exchange I have studied the current legislation on the protection of animals during transport and can find no serious legal argument to support your claim that the UK lost its derogation to prohibit the export of horses for slaughter in 1995.
Article 3 (3) of the Council Directive 91/628/EEC states that the Council "shall lay down appropriate additional conditions for the transport of certain types of animal such as solipeds, wild birds and marine mammals in order to safeguard their welfare".
Crucially, Article 3 (3) goes on to state: "Pending implementation of these provisions, Member States may, subject to the general provisions of the Treaty, apply relevant national additional rules." It is the permission for Member States to "apply relevant national additional rules" that Britain relies on to keep its long-standing ban on the export of equines for slaughter.
Council Directive 95/29/EC is not a free-standing Directive; it is a series of amendments to the 1991 Directive. The 1995 Directive does not in any way amend Article 3 (3) of the 1991 Directive. In other words, the 1991 Directive, as amended by the 1995 Directive, still contains all the wording referred to above.
The 1995 Directive amending the 1991 Directive specifically refers, in its preamble, to Article 13(1) of the 1991 Directive. Article 13 (1) of the 1991 Directive requires the Commission to submit a report, possibly accompanied by proposals, on maximum journey times, feeding and watering intervals, resting periods, space allowances and standards to be met by means of transport as regards the transport of certain types of animal. As such the 1995 Directive is implementing Article 13(1) of the 1991 Directive, and crucially, not Article 3(3).
Clearly the drafter of the 1995 agrees with this. The 1995 Directive deletes much of Article 13 to show that the Council had fulfilled most of its obligations under that Article. However, crucially, the drafter made no change to Article 3 (3) given that nothing in the 1995 Directive fulfilled the Council's obligations under that Article. In particular, if the Council had thought that in the 1995 Directive they were fulfilling their obligation to lay down additional conditions for solipeds, they would, in their series of amendments, have deleted the word "solipeds" from Article 3 (3) of the 1991 Directive.
I can therefore say with certainty that if the Minimum Values Order were challenged the UK government would currently have a legal case to argue - if it indeed so wished - to retain the Order. If this challenge takes place once the new proposed Regulation is in place then the UK government would have no legal defence whatsoever.
I understand you are also arguing that Britain could perhaps justify its ban under the Public Morality exception in Article 30 of the Treaty on European Union. I find it quite surprising that the Commission feels able to make such a suggestion given that the European Court of Justice has ruled that Britain could not rely on Article 30 to ban the export of calves to veal crates.
However, if the Commission and Council were to accept the amendment I plan to table in Environment Committee Article 30 could then be used for allowing Member States to ban the export of horses for slaughter on grounds of public morality. The amendment, to Annex 1, Chapter V, paragraph 1a (new) will read:
"Member States may on grounds of public morality prohibit the export of horses ponies and donkeys destined for slaughter to other Member States or third countries."
A clear amendment such as this would be much better than the half measures which you are currently discussing with the UK government.
I would be grateful if you could clarify your view in light of the above. I look forward to your response.
Green Party MEP for South East England
European Parliament, Office 8G103, rue Wiertz, B-1047 Brussels, BELGIUM
Tel: +32 2 2845153 Fax: +32 2 2849153 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk
European PARLIAMENT: BRIEFING FOR UK MEMBERS
Brief prepared21 November 2003
Document No: COM (03) 425
Title: Proposal for a Council Regulation on the Protection of Animals During Transport and Related Operations and Amending Directives 64/432/EEC and 93/119/EEC
Legislative Procedure: Consultation
Rapporteur: Albert Jan Maat
EP Committee: Agriculture and Rural Development
I. HMG’s view:
UK Minister(s) responsible:
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Scottish Executive Ministers, and Ministers of the Welsh Assembly Government. In Northern Ireland, matters arising from this proposal would normally be the responsibility of Northern Ireland Executive Ministers. Whilst the Northern Ireland Assembly remains suspended these functions will be discharged by Northern Ireland Departments, subject to the control and direction of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
HMG’s Overall view(s):
The Government welcomes these proposals. The UK repeatedly urged the Commission to produce them to ensure that the current EU rules are updated and enforcement improved.
In some places the proposals adopt or build on UK practice and are in line with the UK’s commitment to high standards of animal welfare and shorter journey times to slaughter. The Government has a stated preference for a trade in meat instead of the long distance transport of animals for slaughter.
II. European Parliament consideration:
This proposal has not previously been discussed by the European Parliament. The Commission Report of December 2000 on the experiences of member states since implementation of the welfare during transport rules in 1997 was discussed in the Plenary Session on 12 November 2001 and the EP resolution of 13 November 2001, called on the Commission to present proposals.
III. Background/Views of Others:
See Annex for History and Main Issues
Member states’ views fall across a wide spectrum, from those seeking a maximum limit of eight hours transport for all slaughter animals (Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands) to those opposed to further restrictions on trade (Ireland, Spain and Greece). Germany, Austria, Finland and UK all favour shorter journey times for slaughter animals. There is general agreement that standards of compliance and enforcement could and should be improved.
Industry representatives’ support improved welfare but are concerned that new rules would restrict animal movements within the UK. Exports of high value breeding pigs is an important trade for the UK.
Animal welfare organisations are strongly opposed to live exports from the UK for slaughter and the long distance trade in slaughter animals within the EU. They are disappointed at the absence of a maximum 8 hour limit. They are also concerned about restrictions on export of horses. They are campaigning hard to maintain public and political interest in seeking the most stringent conditions and continue to keep trade under scrutiny.
IV. Official contact point for further information:
Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Animal Welfare Division (Transport & Markets)
Area 507 Page Street, London, SW1P 4PQ
020 7904 6563
020 7904 6961 (fax)
21 November 2003
Proposal for a Council Regulation on the Protection of Animals During Transport and Related OPERATIONS and Amending Directives 64/432/EEC and 93/119/EEC
HISTORY AND MAIN ISSUES
1. In 1997 member states were obliged to implement and enforce additional requirements enhancing the controls first agreed in 1991 (Directive 95/29 amending Directive 91/628). The main changes were introduction of statutory registration of transporters and route plans. By detailing the planned journey, route plans help to ensure compliance with specified maximum journey times, feed and rest periods for farmed livestock and horses.
2. A Commission Report of December 2000 on the experiences of member states since implementation of the welfare during transport rules in 1997 (based on FVO reports, statistical returns from member states and reports by NGOs) highlighted problems and recommended improvements. In many cases it recommended adoption of measures developed by the UK. A report by the FVO on its mission to the UK in February 2001 (DG (SANCO) /3245/2001-MR Final) stated ‘the procedures developed in the UK are an example of best practice in relation to similar controls operated in other member states’).
3. Following consideration of the Commission Report by the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the opinion of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy, a report and Motion for Resolution were produced (Final A5-037/2001 of 16 October). The Resolution included 29 detailed points ranging from maximum journey times, through vehicle standards and improved enforcement to export refunds and restructuring the EU meat production chain.
4. The Report of the Scientific Sub Committee on Animal Health and Welfare on the Welfare of Animals During Transport adopted in March 2002 made recommendations on maximum travel times and space allowances for cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and horses.
5. The Commission carried out consultation with industry and the public and in December 2002 announced results which showed clear support for change.
Consequential amendments to animal health and welfare at slaughter rules
6. Council Directive 64/432/EEC on animal health problems affecting intra-Community trade in bovine animals and swine to maintain consistency with proposed new welfare rules and introduce additional bio-security and record keeping measures; and
7. Council Directive 93/119/EEC on the welfare of animals at slaughter to: reinforce the need to move animals with care; specify construction of passage ways to minimise risk of injury and exploit natural behaviour of animals; and prohibit the use of electric goads in slaughterhouses and knackers’ yards.
8. Maximum journey times (Proposal is for cycle of 9 hours travel followed by 12 hours rest) have implications for domestic and intra-Community trade. If adopted the Commission proposal would:
· go some way to restricting long distance transport of slaughter/fattening animals across the EU but also impact on the high value breeding business
· have significant implications for moving stock through UK livestock markets, agricultural shows and the movement of animals in/from the more remote areas. This is of particular concern to producers in the Scottish Highlands and Islands.
The proposals are welcome but there is much work needed to produce a package of measures (including vehicle standards, space allowances and animal health and welfare checks) that will meet all needs.
9. Authorisation of transporters and national databases of authorised transporters. The scope of the proposals must be properly defined so that they clearly determine the effect of these proposals on farmers (as opposed to livestock hauliers)These provisions would aid enforcement, but their impact must be proportionate
10. Higher vehicle standards are supported, in principle but there is a need to get the detail right In the current draft proposal, in some cases, the technology is not available to meet the proposed (eg to measure relative humidity in the livestock compartment of a lorry). Livestock vessel standards are welcome.
Higherspace allowances for long distance transport are supported but we have concerns about the proposed figures.
12. Route logs as proposed are not as sophisticated as Route Plans currently used in the UK. Our rules require details of the journey to be added during the journey and Route Plans must be returned to the issuing office for scrutiny within 15 days of the end of the journey
2. Inspection and approval of means of transport is welcome although there needs to be clearer definition of the scope of the proposals (see comments on transporters approval).
3. Export of horses to slaughter see attached letter of 14 November to all MP and MEPs from Alun Michael (Minister for Rural Affairs and Local Environmental Quality)
DR. CAROLINE LUCAS
Green Party Member of the European Parliament
for the South East of England
Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP
Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR
23 February 2004
I write in connection with my successful amendment in Environment Committee which would allow Member States to prohibit the export of horses for slaughter.
I have been requested by a number of my constituents to urge you to support my amendment and defend the opt out which currently allows the UK to retain the Minimum Values Order, thereby prohibiting the export of horses and ponies from the UK.
If the Commission and more importantly, the Council, were to accept my amendment the UK would be able to retain its ban on the export of horses and ponies.
However, I understand from the Commission that the UK government is not in favour of retaining its ban on the export of horses and ponies, preferring instead a number of half measures (as set out in your 14 November letter) that will not be sufficient to prevent horse dealers from transporting UK equines to continental markets and slaughterhouses. Support from the UK government for my amendment is therefore crucial if we are not to see the beginning of a trade in live horses from the UK.
I would therefore be grateful if you would outline what action the UK has taken in the Council to prevent this from happening and what action the UK government intends to take in the future to prevent a live horse trade from the UK becoming a reality.
I look forward to your response.
Green Party MEP for South East England