Long-distance animal transport from the EU to Turkey

28 March 2013    
Kriton Arsenis (S&D)



Hundreds of thousands of sheep and cattle (destined for slaughter and breeding) are transported over long distances from EU Member States (MS) to Turkey each year. Reports from NGOs, supported by empirical evidence, have demonstrated that these long-distance journeys cause immense suffering to the animals. Extremely long transport time — regularly prolonged by enormous delays sometimes lasting entire days at or near the border between the EU and Turkey — are often a result of incorrect/incomplete accompanying documents issued by the competent authorities in the MS of departure.

The NGO Animals’ Angels has repeatedly documented the fact that animals regularly suffer as a result of this long-distance transport from dehydration and malnutrition, severe respiratory disorders, heat stress and exhaustion. A significant number of animals that did not survive the long-distance transport have been documented. Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport has been in effect for five years now. However, in 2013 the relevant EC laws are still not being enforced by MS, and several incidents of irregular transport authorised in MS have been documented. The European Commission needs to step up its efforts to ensure the efficient enforcement of Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 and the effective protection of animals during transport.
This being the case, will the Commission answer the following questions:
1.     How many live bovine and ovine animals were exported from MS (broken down by MS) to Turkey in the years 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012?
2.     How does the Commission intend to rectify the systematic and permanent failure of MS of departure to enforce Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 in the context of transport of animals to Turkey?
3.     How does the Commission intend to rectify the systematic and permanent failure of the competent Bulgarian authorities to enforce Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 at the EU exit point Kapitan Andreevo on the EU border with Turkey?
4.     In connection with questions 2 and 3, what does the Commission consider to be an appropriate time to grant the MS in which to finally enforce Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005?

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission
16 May 2013

1. See annexes.

2. In order to improve enforcement when animals are transported from the EU to Turkey, the Commission has reminded Member States of their responsibilities in ensuring proper application of the EU rules on numerous occasions(1). Enforcement action has been improved by Member States following the handling of complaints by the Commission.

3. From 5 to 13 June 2012, the Food and Veterinary Office of the Commission's Health and Consumers Directorate General (FVO) carried out an audit in Bulgaria to evaluate implementation of controls for animal welfare on farms and during transport. They visited the exit point in Bulgaria referred to in the question. FVO concluded that official checks at the exit point to Turkey are carried out in a generally satisfactory manner. The findings and recommendations from this audit can be found on the Commission web-page(2). Based on the findings from this audit, the Commission does not agree there is a permanent and systematic failure of the Bulgarian authorities to enforce Regulation 1/2005 in relation to checks at exit points.

4. Regulation 1/2005 has been applied since 5 January 2007. When Member States do not fulfill their obligations, the Commission may take action. In relation to improper enforcement of Regulation 1/2005, the Commission has initiated infringement procedures in several cases, where it has considered this was necessary.

(1)    The issue was discussed with the contact points for Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 in December 2011 and June 2012; at a dedicated meeting with the authorities from the concerned Member States and representatives from animal welfare organisations and the industry in March 2012; and at the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health on 4 December 2012. Minutes from that meeting can be found on: http://ec.europa.eu/food/committees/regulatory/scfcah/animal_health/sum_04122012_en.pdf
(2)    http://ec.europa.eu/food/fvo/rep_details_en.cfm?rep_id=2952.