Select Committee on European Scrutiny Seventh Report


COM(00) 809

Commission Report on the experience acquired by Member
States since the implementation of Council Directive
95/29/EC amending Directive 91/628/EEC concerning the
protection of animals during transport.

Legal base:
Document originated: 6 December 2000
Forwarded to the Council: 6 December 2000
Deposited in Parliament: 17 January 2001
Department: Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Basis of consideration: EM of 8 February 2001
Previous Committee Report: None
To be discussed in Council: No date set
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: Cleared


  16.1  Although the first Community measures for the protection of animals during transport were adopted in 1977, the arrangements which currently apply are set out in Council Directives 91/628/EEC[49] and 95/29/EC.[50] These contain a number of detailed provisions, but in essence they prohibit the transport of an animal unless it is fit, the vehicle used complies with certain requirements, such as loading densities, and is accompanied by a trained attendant, and those transporting animals are registered by a competent Member State authority. The Directives also require that, for journeys exceeding eight hours, an itinerary (including any staging and transfer points, where the animals may be rested) should be drawn up, and food and water made available. Member States are required to carry out inspections to ensure compliance with the various requirements, and to take any action necessary to ensure the welfare of the animals.

  16.2  Council Directive 95/29/EC also required the Commission to submit by 31 December 1999 a report to the Council on its implementation. The present document represents a somewhat belated response to the obligation.

The current document

  16.3  The Commission says that, in putting together this report, it has drawn upon the annual reports which the Member States are required to submit to it, on inspection reports of the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO), and on complaints it has received from non-governmental organisations, including the RSPCA.

  16.4  Its main findings are:

    —  The low priority given by some Member States to implementing the Directive

      The Commission says that this is one of the most frequent comments found in reports from the FVO and non-governmental organisations, and involves such shortcomings as the approval of non-compliant route plans, and inaction over the transport of unfit animals. It also observes that the difficulties are exacerbated by transporters operating in different Member States, and the often confused nature of their respective responsibilities.

    —  Difficulties in collecting Member States' inspection reports

      Although Member States have an obligation to submit an annual report, the Commission says that some have been very late in doing so, and that Greece has yet to submit any report. Moreover, where reports have been provided, they are frequently incomplete, and the lack of uniformity in the data used makes it difficult to draw valid comparisons.

    —  Transport of horses

      The Commission says that the transport of horses for slaughter from central and eastern Europe is a particular area of concern, in that the animals travel long distances, mainly by road, and that, because of inadequate laws in the exporting or transit countries, they reach the borders of the Community insufficiently rested, poorly watered, and not fed. Moreover, the vehicles used are frequently inappropriate and over-loaded. The problem is further compounded by inadequate border inspections on arrival, particularly in Italy, which accounts for over 80% of such imports.

    —  Inadequate road vehicles

      The Commission says that the use of poorly designed, ill-maintained and dirty vehicles is commonly reported, and raises animal health, as well as welfare, concerns.

    —  Non-compliance with route plans and travelling time limits

      The Commission says that, although these are not considered as frequent deficiencies by Member States, the FVO identifies them as two of the major technical deficiencies. It has also commented that insufficient checks on plans are carried out at departure, but that real difficulties do arise in applying the various provisions to multi-leg journeys.

    —  Negligence and poor handling of animals

      The transport of unfit animals is a main finding both for Member States and the FVO, which the Report suggests may require a more precise definition of what constitutes unfitness to travel.

    —  Insufficient ventilation and overloading of vehicles used in long-distance transport

      In contrast to most Member States, the FVO and non-governmental organisations consider insufficient ventilation to be a serious problem, leading to over-heating, suffering and eventually death. These problems are increased by overloading.

    —  Approval of transporters

      The Report notes that transporters have no obligation to carry during transport any documentary evidence of their approval, which makes it unnecessarily difficult to check if approval has been given. Also, reports of any infringements are not always followed up by the Member State of registration. These weaknesses lower the effectiveness of inspections, and the dissuasive effect of the imposition of penalties.

  16.5  Against this background, the Commission says that it intends to present proposals in the near future to improve the conditions under which animals are transported. It suggests that these should include a greater priority being given to animal welfare issues by Member States, including the allocation of adequate resources to apply the current legislation; harmonised procedures for the registration and certification of transporters; where long-distance cross-border journeys are involved, a proper exchange of information between the authorities in the different Member States on such matters as route plans; the need to improve the welfare conditions of animals arriving at the Community's external frontiers, particularly from central and eastern Europe, and to ensure they are treated properly once within the Community; and the need for the Community to negotiate a revision to the European Convention on the Protection of Animals during International Transport. The Commission also identifies the particular need for additional measures for the protection of horses during transport, covering such aspects as their separation, the numbers to be carried in any given road vehicle, and the range of temperatures within which they may be transported. These measures would be supplemented by a number of more technical changes relating to the format of the required route plan, the definition of unfit animals, the form of certification to accompany animals during transport, the need to monitor temperature and humidity inside vehicle compartments, and the harmonisation of Member States' annual inspection reports.

  16.6  In addition, the Commission has highlighted a number of longer-term initiatives, on which it says scientific advice is necessary. These include travelling time limits and resting periods, loading densities, and the stress arising from loading and unloading operations. It also wishes to consider whether further improvements are needed in such areas as the training and qualifications of those involved in animal transport, and to examine measures to encourage the slaughter of animals closer to the places where they are raised.

The Government's view

  16.7  In his Explanatory Memorandum of 8 February 2001, the Parliamentary Secretary (Commons) at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr Elliot Morley) says that the Government is committed to high standards of animal welfare, and that, whilst it has stated a preference for a trade in meat instead of the long-distance transport of animals for slaughter, it has made considerable efforts to ensure that Community rules are met whilst animals are within UK jurisdiction. It has also encouraged other Member States to give animal welfare a high priority. He adds that the actions recommended in the Commission's report in many cases reflect those developed by the UK, and that the report is welcome as a forerunner to the anticipated proposals for amending Council Directive 91/628/EEC, which "should be brought forward without delay".

  16.8  As regards the likely cost of the Commission's recommendations, the Minister says that the majority of those relating to improved enforcement, communication and clarity of the rules are unlikely to impose an increased burden on the UK or UK transporters, but that, subject to clarification when detailed proposals are issued, there may be some costs arising from the measures proposed for the transport of horses, and in relation to unfit animals. Similarly, the longer-term proposals to encourage a reduction in long-distance transport for slaughter are likely to have direct financial implications.

  16.9  The Minister indicates that, when the Commission issues formal proposals to amend the Directive, the Government will consult interested parties, and submit a further Explanatory Memorandum and a Regulatory Impact Assessment.


  16.10  Since this document is simply a Commission Report, which is likely to be followed by proposals for legislation, we are content to clear it. Nevertheless, the Commission has identified a number of significant, and disturbing, shortcomings in the way in which many Member States have discharged their responsibilities in this area, and we are therefore drawing it to the attention of the House.

49   OJ No. L. 340, 11.12.91, p.17. Back

50   OJ No. L. 148, 30.6.95, p.52. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 15 March 2001