Export subsidies for live animals must be phased out by 2013
Posted on 17/07/2012
In light of the Agriculture Council taking place on 16 July 2012 Eurogroup for Animals urges all member states to support the phase out of the use of subsidies which promote the export of live animals to third countries.
In 2005, the European Commission stopped granting subsidies for the export to third countries of live animals for slaughter, but they still remain for pure-bred breeding animals. The Commission also announced at the same time that in line with WTO commitments, it would stop granting all export refunds for all live animals by the end of 2013.
However despite this commitment, the Commission proposal to reform the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) which will be discussed by the Agriculture Council on Monday still includes the granting of refunds to export live cattle to third countries and this is unacceptable.
As the EU is still subsidising live exports, we continue to see the animal welfare problems caused by long distance transport. Long distance transport is indeed a source of welfare problems and sometimes high mortality. Overcrowding, inadequate ventilation, bad driving and failure to feed, water and rest the animals at correct intervals lead to unacceptable and unnecessary suffering.
The granting of these subsidies is conditional and requires all EU rules on animal welfare during transport to be respected. However the suffering continues as the current legislation is inadequate and Member States are either reluctant or incapable of ensuring correct implementation. In 2010, refunds were recovered or not paid for 2149 exported animals (3% of the total number of animals exported with refunds) as a result of not respecting the rules: the animals were found to be injured or dead on arrival, or they gave birth or aborted during transport. This proves that the rules are not being respected.
“The Council must act today to ensure the welfare of animals is improved by phasing out export subsidies. This will have an impact on EU animal welfare and show that the EU is prepared to take the lead and not wait for the WTO to act,”said Sonja Van Tichelen, Director of Eurogroup for Animals.
“The Commission in presenting this proposal ignores the advice of its own scientific body, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which clearly states that animal transport should be as short as possible; as the longer the journey the higher the risk to the animal’s welfare,” she concluded.