EU court: Animal welfare rules apply to animals leaving EU

Transport of pigs - file pic Image copyright PA
Image caption There has been much public pressure to improve animal welfare in the EU

The European Court of Justice says EU animal welfare rules must apply throughout the transport of live animals to countries outside the union.

The case was triggered when authorities in Kempten, southern Germany, refused to let a local firm export cattle to Uzbekistan in Central Asia.

EU rules say cattle must get a rest period of at least one hour, with food and water, after 14 hours of travel.

The court has made it clear that those rules include travel in non-EU states.

On longer journeys the animals must be unloaded and have a 24-hour rest with food and water, after another 14 hours of travel.

The cattle transport by German firm Zuchtvieh-Export GmbH would have involved more than five days of travel in non-EU countries.

The company's journey log had not specified rest points for the cattle during the 7,000km (4,340-mile) journey across former Soviet countries.

Under the ECJ ruling, authorities can now demand inclusion of those welfare provisions in the journey log for live animal transports that leave the EU.

An ECJ press release said that "the requirements relating to watering and feeding intervals and duration of journeys and resting periods also apply to those stages of the transport taking place outside the EU".

EU-wide rules on protection of animals during transport were adopted in 2004 and further legislation was added later.

A British Liberal Democrat MEP, Catherine Bearder, said EU animal welfare law had helped reduce unnecessary suffering during live transports, but "too often these rules are callously ignored, including when animals are shipped further afield".

"Today's ruling should encourage us to ensure EU laws on animal transport are properly enforced, both at home and abroad."

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