Animal welfare rules during transport also apply outside of EU borders

Today, the European Court of Justice ruled that animal welfare requirements during transport have also to be respected when the transport is taking place outside of EU borders.

A German transporter wanted to transport cattle from Germany to Uzbekistan, crossing a part of the EU territory, but also third countries including Belarus, Russia and Uzbekistan. He wanted to respect EU welfare transport rules only until EU external border (Belarus) and not for the part of the journey taking place in Russia and Asia, representing for the animals a continuous travel time of 146 hours with no food, no water and no rest.

According to Regulation 1/2005 on the welfare of animals during transport, the organiser of such a transport has to submit to the national competent authority a logbook containing the details of the planned journey, including resting time. The German competent authority has rejected the logbook, for the reason that EU welfare transport rules were not respected. In a reference for a preliminary ruling, the German competent authority asked to the EU Court if EU transport rules can also apply outside of EU borders. 

In its judgment, the Court referred to the animal welfare principle of Article 13 to estimate that the scope of EU transport Regulation 1/2005 is not limited to transports taking place inside EU borders, but also covers transports starting from inside the EU territory.

The Court stated “the authority may require, among other things, changes to the arrangements for the intended  transport  in  order  to  ensure  that  it  will  pass  by  enough  resting  and  transfer  points  to indicate  that  the  transport  will  comply  with  the  requirements  as  to  watering  and  feeding  intervals and journey times and resting periods”.

VIER PFOTEN / FOUR PAWS welcome this decision which is a big victory for animal welfare and a small hope for the millions of animals that are regularly transported from and across the EU.

More on the EU Court official press release

Text of the judgment: