Page last updated at 10:02 GMT, Wednesday, 12 December 2012

MEPs urge eight hour animal transport limit

MEPs have urged the European Commission to bring in an eight-hour time limit for the transportation of animals across the EU.

A non-binding report by the Agriculture Committee includes a number of proposals to improve animal welfare conditions.

Speaking during the debate on 11 December 2012, the report's author, Polish Conservative MEP Janusz Wojciechowski said that as a "civilised society", the EU should treat animals better.

Current rules allow the transportation of live animals for more than 24 hours, although journeys of more than eight hours are supposed to be "strictly controlled".

Mr Wojciechowski claimed that the number of long distance journeys had increased year on year, and that long journeys took their toll on animal welfare.

"Meat will be of better quality if animals are less stressed when they are slaughtered," he added.

The report also contains a call for measures to halt the decline of small, local abattoirs, as a way of reducing the amount of long journey times.

Health Commissioner Tonio Borg admitted it was a "sensitive and emotional" issue, but that proper enforcement of the current laws should take priority over bringing in new laws.

A Commission study from 2011 found that 27.8m live pigs and more than a billion poultry were transported across the EU in 2009.

The figures for other animals in 2009 were: 4.3m sheep, 4.3m cattle and 147,122 horses.

Earlier this year more than one million people signed an online petition to improve the welfare of animals transported to slaughter across Europe.

Under the Lisbon Treaty the Commission has to consider legislating on an issue if at least one million signatures are collected in a public petition.

The report was formally adopted during the daily voting session on 12 December 2012.

Useful links:

Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work.

A disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations, on the European Parliament's website.

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