The European Commission has recently produced a specific report on animal suffering in long distance transport. This report calls, in many ways, on Member States and stakeholders to make concerted efforts to rectify situations that were clearly recognised as being unsatisfactory. Over 1.1 million signatories signed the 8-hour petition.
EU Commissioner John Dalli responsible for Health and Consumer Policy delivered a conference on the subject and said that the Commission's report concluded that this is not a time to seek to introduce any changes to the transport legislation, but rather, the focus of the report and of Commission policy on this issue, concerns measures – and there are several – that could improve the enforcement of our current animal welfare rules regarding transport.
He stressed that the Commission's and animal welfare campaigners' objective is identical - the improvement of animal welfare, in this case, during long distance transport.
The Commission did not embrace the 8-hour maximum limit that the animal campaigners are proposing for two principal reasons:
1. because such a rule applied to all species in all circumstances is not scientifically justified;
2. because Member States have expressed support for the Commission's current policy to improve enforcement first and would not support an 8-hour maximum limit. In order to deliver real change in a reasonable time it is vital to aim at achievable targets.
3. If a third reason were required it is because proper enforcement is the basis of all effective regulation.
To impose stricter regulation such as the 8-hour maximum limit and to leave enforcement in an unsatisfactory condition would be adding insult to the injuries the animals do suffer.
The day-to-day enforcement of EU rules on animal transport is the responsibility of the Member States.
Nevertheless, the Commission does have an important role to play. A number of actions aimed at improving the current situation are currently being prepared. These include:
"In order to build on firm foundations it is necessary to ensure that operators and enforcers have the necessary professional skills, that available technologies are fully deployed and that the necessary legal tools are available to ensure uniform implementation of animal welfare rules and standards across the Union," Commissioner Dalli expalined.
Laying the basis by securing better enforcement and developing appropriate animal welfare indicatorsis a two-pronged apprach and the Commission's policy which Dalli strongly is proposing as a means to ensure a sustainable solution for better welfare conditions for animals well into the future.