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Brussels to ‘improve’ welfare of animals exported to non-EU countries

By Oscar Rousseau , 09-Mar-2017

The European Commission is pursue action on animal welfare following an undercover investigation
The European Commission is pursue action on animal welfare following an undercover investigation

The European Commission will pursue actions within its remit to improve the welfare of livestock shipped to non-EU countries, after an undercover investigation allegedly showed member state animals subjected to brutal treatment. 

An official in Brussels has told this site the European Commission (EC) would continue to improve the welfare standards of EU animals exported to third-world countries “within its remit of competence”.

This comes after an investigation by a triumvirate of animal rights’ groups published graphic footage purportedly showing EU animals subjected to torture and slaughter methods banned by Brussels.

European politicians have responded to the eight-month, clandestine investigation that followed livestock exported from nine EU countries to the Middle East, Turkey and North Africa.

A representative of the EC’s health and food safety division said members of European parliament will “consider follow-up actions”.

EC perspective

“Member states are required to make sure that the EU regulation on the protection of animals using transport is correctly applied at the place of departure and until the place of destination, based on the information at their disposal,” a spokesperson told this site.

“In non-EU countries, rules and enforcement remain the sole competence of their national authorities.

Activity includes support for an animal welfare action plan, orchestrated by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). This would see the OIE, and possibly the EC, liaise with representatives in the Middle East to, as one spokesperson described, “address challenges related to the welfare of animals exported from [the] EU to this region”.

Transport and slaughter methods are two of the key areas the plan would focus on.

The undercover investigation that has put pressure on EU livestock traders suggested there were serious shortcomings in both the transport and slaughter of European animals in third-world markets.

An EU-wide scheme is also being carried out that will see several member states audited this year. The European Commission wants to collect facts on long journeys of livestock shipments to non-EU countries and will deploy a special fact-finding mission to Turkey. However, it is not clear if this mission has been set up in light of the allegations made by the trio of animal welfare groups.

Animals International, Tierschutzbund Zürich and Eurogroup for Animals are the activist groups involved.