Live export shipments to come under greater animal welfare scrutiny

Photo: Roger Jones.
Photo: Roger Jones.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The European Commission has signalled its intention to audit the animal welfare standards of EU Member States live exports.

Ireland has exported a significant amount of live cattle to third countries this year in particular to Turkey, which is understood to be the focus of the probe.

The European Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said recently that while the enforcement of EU animal welfare legislation is primarily the responsibility of Member States the Commission continues to pursue actions to ensure its better enforcement, in particular on the protection of animals during transport.

He said the Commission assists Member States in this process by facilitating regular meetings with the National Contact Points for animal welfare during transport.

The last meeting held on 13-15 September 2016 in Grange, Meath, focused on various aspects related to the live animal exports to Turkey, in particular better planning of the journeys, communication amongst Member States and better enforcement.

The welfare of animals exported to Turkey was also discussed at the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed meetings in July and October 2016.

The Commissioner said Member States welcomed the letter sent by the Commission to their Chief Veterinary Officers on this issue and several of them used it to develop further instructions and guides.

The Commission also wrote to the Turkish authorities suggesting some key measures and simplified procedures to be considered by the border inspection post of Kapikule in order to improve the welfare of transported animals.

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However, this matter remains under the sole responsibility of the Turkish authorities.

Andriukaitis said the Commission is planning to deploy, at the end of 2016 and at the beginning of 2017, targeted audit missions to several Member States.

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