Commission proposes radical overhaul of animal transport rules

EU - The European Commission today adopted a proposed Regulation on animal transport, which will radically overhaul the animal transport rules in Europe.
calendar icon 16 July 2003
clock icon 6 minute read
Commission proposes radical overhaul of animal transport rules - EU - The European Commission today adopted a proposed Regulation on animal transport, which will radically overhaul the animal transport rules in Europe.
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To improve enforcement, the Regulation identifies the chain of all those involved in animal transport and who is responsible for what as well as introducing efficient enforcement tools, such as checks via the tachograph.

It also introduces much stricter rules for journeys of more than 9 hours, including domestic transport which mirror other EU legislation governing the time that drivers can spend on the road.

The proposed Regulation recognises that most of the stress on the animals occurs around loading and unloading and therefore introduces rules to deal with situations before and after transport, for example at slaughterhouses or at harbours.

It encourages Member States to develop guides of good practice. Currently only about 10% (17,5 Mio) of animal transport in Europe consists of long distance transport.

David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer protection, said “I am optimistic that this radical overhaul of the animal transport rules in Europe can come into force soon. I believe it provides the best tools to introduce real improvements in animal welfare over the short to medium term.

My main aims are to minimise the stress that animals go through and to ensure that they arrive at their destination as fast as possible. Importantly, the Regulation will also define who is responsible for what and when, which will help enormously in ensuring that the rules are properly enforced.“

The Regulation will have to be approved by the Council of Ministers after consultation of the European Parliament. It is expected to be in force by the end of 2005.

What will change with the new Regulation?

Travelling times reducing stress for animals on the road

Today long-distance:

  • Very young animals (still drinking milk): 9 hours + 1 hour rest (watering) + 9 hours
  • Pigs: 24 hours (permanent access to water)
  • Horses: 24 hours with watering every 8 hours
  • Cattle, sheep and goats: 14 hours +1 hour rest (watering) + 14 hours.
The above sequences may be repeated if animals are unloaded, fed, watered and rested for at least 24 hours in an approved staging point.

In future - long distance:

All species: maximum 9 hours travelling + minimum 12 hours rest. The sequence may be repeated. No staging point is required. Animals rest within the vehicle.

Youngest and pregnant animals shall not travel


Prohibition for newborn animals in which the navel has not completely healed. No specifications for the different species.

In future:

  • Ban of travelling above 100 km with young animals (pigs less than 4 weeks / lambs less than one week / calves less than 2 weeks / horses less than 4 months (for long-distance only)).
  • Ban on females travelling one week after birth and before giving birth (10% of the estimated time of the gestation)

Improved equipment for improved conditions

Today - long-distance:

Partition of the compartment, access to animals, but no additional space for long distance journeys.

In future - long-distance:

  • Specific temperature according to species (with temperature monitoring system, recording data, driver cabin with alert system)
  • Permanent access to drinking water
  • More space according to species and length of journey e.g. 40% more for pigs, 16% more for cattle, 32% more for sheep-
  • Prohibition on tying animals (animals can move around or lay down, precise space definitions allows better enforcement)
  • Better conditions on sea vessels (e.g. inclination of ramps, drinking equipment, approval system).

Conditions for horses improved


Minimum space allowances.

In future:

  • Larger space allowances for short distance journeys
  • Individual stalls/boxes for long distance journeys
  • Permanent access to hay.

Regulation instead of Directive better enforcement tool


Directive (some national interpretation possible).

In future:

Regulation (ensuring harmonisation in all Member States).

What is long distance transport?


Longer than 8h with upgraded trucks.

In future:

9 hours (based on drivers' social legislation, therefore easily enforceable). Driver has to stop for 12 hours after 9 hours driving. Length of journey defined as the entire transport operation from start to final destination, including intermediate points.

Who is responsible?


Transport operator and transporters (companies).

In future:

As above, but also traders (organisers) and drivers, as well as “keepers“ (staff at assembly centres, markets and slaughterhouses as well as farmers).

Ensuring better enforcement


Enforcement via Route Plan (but Route Plans are only mandatory if a border is crossed and the journey is longer than 8 hours).

In future:

  • Enforcement via Journey Log when above 9 hours; not only when border crossed. Signatures of all involved, report at end of transport
  • Via tachograph efficient tool; not possible to alter data
  • A person has to be made responsible for entire transport.

More personal responsibility in case of infringements


Suspend/withdraw approval of transporter, etc

In future:

  • Additional checks in case of infringements
  • Also suspension / withdrawal of driver training certificate and the authorisation of the means of transport
  • Prohibited transit onto the territory of a Member State
  • Training requirements are demanded for the people responsible for the welfare of the animals.

Authorisation: improved standards to facilitate enforcement


Authorisation via registration of transporter.

In future:

  • Reinforced registration rules, harmonised registration format (European database)
  • Requirements on traceability and emergency plans for transporter
  • Obligation for transporters to carry a copy of the authorisation
  • 5 year time limit on approval of vehicles for long distance journeys (9 hours); also for sea vessels (sea vessels also require specific equipment)
  • Compulsory approved training for drivers and animal handlers at livestock markets.

New responsibilities at interim stops (assembly centres, markets, etc)


No responsibilities for market places / assembly centres / harbours.

In future:

Clear responsibility to check and implement animal welfare rules by the “keeper“ (a newly introduced term). Operators of assembly centres have to ensure personnel is trained.

Post-journey follow-up: an important part of enforcement


  • Route plan is checked (only if + 8 hours and crossing border)
  • Limited information.
In future:

Comprehensive journey log for long-distance/9 hours (e.g. place of destination has to perform checks and report status of animals, including number of animals arriving dead or unfit).

Source: European Commission - 16th July 2003

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