Back from the Brink: Regulations about the transport of animals in the EU
As some of you may know, the EU Commission recently proposed a new set of regulations about the transport of animals in the EU and those rules would have prevented Britain from maintaining the individual national laws that prevent horses from being exported for meat. However, at the crucial meting in April at which the Agriculture Ministers of the EU countries were to adopt the new rules, there was no agreement and so that means that the old rules remain in place.
It isn’t clear yet exactly what position the UK Government took. They had been unhappy with various aspects of the new Regulations but had broadly welcomed them and had indicated that they wouldn’t support any special protection for British horses. In the days leading up to the meeting they had shown a little more open-mindedness however and after the talks collapsed issued a statement saying that they could not support the proposals as they stood. They didn’t mention horses at all in their statement.
Although British horses have been “winners” in this instance, the situation remains that other farmed animals in the EU still face long journeys in appalling conditions. We welcome the collapse of the talks in as much as we thought that the proposals on animal transport were bad in general and there is a possibility that better regulations may now result. On the other hand, such negotiations are tortuous and animals will continue to be abused until a new deal is struck and made law, which could take a long time. The presence of the new EU accession countries like Poland – many of whom are struggling to meet existing EU welfare standards – will also act as a brake on progress so the situation remains serious. Undoubtedly, British horses have benefited for the moment and it may well be that in the longer term other farmed animals will benefit but right now, animals continue to suffer during export and transport.
For the present, animals other than horses continue to be exported from the UK and you can support the campaign to end this by writing to your MP and the Government minister responsible c/o Defra, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1A 0AA.