27 September 2012
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE)
According to the ‘Annual report on the protection of animals during transport’(1) provided by the Spanish authorities to the European Commission in 2010, only 0.21 % of animals (cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and equidae) transported within, to and from Spain were checked by the Spanish authorities for compliance with Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport, i.e., out of a total of 101 324 215 million animals only 214 236 were physically checked. This percentage of physical checks is entirely insufficient to guarantee an acceptable level of animal protection during transport, especially in consideration of the fact that 40.67 % of animal transports checked on the road in Spain were found to be in violation of Regulation (EC) No 1/2005. As is well known and largely documented, long-distance journeys in particular have negative consequences for the animals’ welfare. The longer the journey takes, the longer the animals suffer from insufficient space, insufficient water and feed supply, high temperatures, etc.
The findings both of the EU Commission’s Food and Veterinary Service and of animal welfare organisations show that the level of enforcement of Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport is insufficient.
1. In the light of these official figures, and if the present Regulation is not modified, does the Commission think that Spain will be able to invest large amounts of financial and human resources to significantly raise the number of inspections of animal transports in future, in order to safeguard the welfare of animals during transport, especially during long-distance journeys?
2. If the Commission cannot guarantee this, does it not think that the refusal to amend Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 by establishing a maximum 8-hour journey limit, as already requested by Parliament and by over one million European citizens, constitutes a violation of Art. 13 TFEU?
3. Does the Commission not think that the establishment of a maximum 8-hour journey limit would make enforcement much easier for the inspection authorities, as legislation would be much less complex (since all the additional requirements for long-distance transports would be obsolete), and in this way even where the standards were breached, animals would not have to suffer for very long periods as is happening under the present rules?
Answer given by Mr Šefčovič on behalf of the Commission:
1. According to Article 26 of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 on official controls it is for the Member State to ensure proper resources for official controls. Official controls on, amongst others, live animals have according to Article 4 (2)(a) of the same Regulation to be effective and appropriate.
The Commission has no indications that Spain systematically fail to implement the abovementioned Articles in relation to controls of animal welfare during transport.
2. In spite of the general importance given to animal welfare by Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), this article does not impose any concrete obligations upon the Union and Member States to amend their legislation in one particular way or another.
3. Without a proper assessment, it is not possible to know whether a change to the legislation as indicated by the Honourable Member would make the legislation easier or more difficult to enforce.