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UK bans live animal exports – Euractiv DE

UK bans live animal exports – Euractiv DE

The British Parliament on Tuesday (May 14) passed a ban on the export of live animals. European NGOs welcome this “historic” move and call on the EU to follow suit.

The legislation ends the export of live cattle, sheep, pigs and horses for slaughter or fattening, marking a historic advance for environmental groups.

“This is a great day for which we have been waiting for a long time,” said Philippe Limberi, chief executive of Compassion in World Agriculture (CIWF).

“Let this historic milestone set an example for the EU,” the NGO Eurogroup for Animals wrote to the EU Commission.

It is true that UK animal exports to the EU are down from 2020 due to Brexit-related tariff restrictions. However, according to British MPs, the move could have a negative impact on ten percent of sheep farming, particularly in the south-east of the United Kingdom.

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 1.6 million animals were exported from the UK annually before 2020.

“For decades, cattle have endured these senseless and stressful exports to the continent – but no longer,” Limberi added.

Associations assert that these transports were a source of physical suffering and disease due to stress, overcrowding and high temperatures.

On May 11, Australia also committed to ending live sheep exports by 2028. Other countries such as New Zealand and Brazil have already banned the practice by 2023.

CIWF said in a press release that there is “growing momentum” worldwide to end live sheep exports.

The Farmers' Union Wales (FUW) supported the British government as a “world leader in animal welfare”. However, it demands that farmers be protected from unfair competition from abroad through equal standards for imports.

Britain's main farming union, the National Farmers Union, is still cautious. In recent months, the association has expressed doubts about the law. It means British fattening sheep can no longer be exported to Belgium, the Netherlands and France. This in turn leads farmers to turn to more distant suppliers, particularly in Eastern Europe.

Impact on the EU?

“The EU cannot continue to make empty promises on animal welfare and not be a leader in this area. It must take concrete action to put an end to this cruel trade,” said Olga Kiko, Policy Director for European Animal Law and Policy.

More than 1.6 billion animals are transported within and across the EU's borders each year.

In December 2023, the EU Commission proposed to tighten legislation on animal welfare during transport. These include shorter transit times, more space, and control of transit in extreme temperatures.

Among other things, the Commission proposed tougher export regulations, including better controls in third countries that meet equivalent standards to those in the EU. However, a ban on the export of live animals is not proposed.

Some EU countries are pushing for tougher rules. An example of this is Germany, which announced a legislative initiative even though it did not stop exports to third countries.

Other member states such as France and Spain have voted to maintain live animal exports at the urging of their export industries. They want to focus on improving traffic conditions.

Bans that apply outside Europe increase pressure on the EU Commission. He is expected to present plans for a comprehensive review of animal welfare regulations, originally scheduled for 2023.

EU ministers rally against animal transport ban

A group of EU agriculture ministers has come together to oppose a ban on the transport of live animals to third countries. The EU Commission, on the other hand, emphasized the need to be ambitious in animal protection.

[Bearbeitet von Angelo Di Mambro/Chris Powers]