Like many people, we've been shocked by recent stories of beef products containing horsemeat. Behind the jokes that many people have made is the serious reality that tens of thousands of horses suffer needlessly every year on long journeys to slaughter - and that consumers have no way of telling where their horsemeat came from, due to the way that horsemeat is labelled. Please email Commissioner Borg, reminding him that horsemeat is often the product of horse suffering - and asking him to make changes so that this becomes a thing of the past.
12 December 2012:
MEPs vote to adopt report on Transport Regulation! We're pleased at announce that the report has been adopted by the European Parliament. Thank you to everyone that emailed their MEPs to ask for their support. Read our full response here.
MEPs debated the Transport Report late last night (11 December) and will vote today (12 December). If you would like to see the debate for yourself, the video can be downloaded free from the EuroparlTV website. We are watching the debate now, and will be releasing our own conclusions shortly.
Tonio Borg will replace John Dalli as the EU Commissioner for Health, responsible for the Animal Transport Regulation. We hope that his term in office will begin with a European Parliament report calling for changes to this regulation.
Our supporters sent almost 30,000 emails to members of the European Parliament's Agriculture and Rural Development Committee in September and October, asking them to vote for better horse welfare when the Committee considered the Own Initiative Report prepared by Janusz Wojciechowski MEP. We welcome this report, which was voted on by the Committee on 11 October 2012. The report recognises the shortcomings of the current Transport Regulation (EU Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005), and calls upon the Commission to reconsider its stance on amending this piece of legislation. We are very pleased that the AGRI Committee has used this opportunity to call for transport times and vehicle design standards for horses to be amended and for space allowances to be addressed (albeit not in the form that we would recommend), as well as calling for guidance on key issues such as fitness for transport and water provision. No changes have been recommended to the conditions for transporting Registered horses. Full details of World Horse Welfare's recommendations can be found in our Dossier of Evidence.
We hope that the European Parliament will adopt this report when they vote on it in December, and that the Commission will listen to the European Parliament and European citizens, and begin the process of preparing amendments to the Regulation to address these issues. It is crucial that the Regulation is amended to follow current scientific evidence, so that Europe’s horses will be protected by workable and scientifically valid legislation.
Thanks to you, significantly fewer horses are now being transported long distances to slaughter in the European Union.
There are likely to be many factors behind this reduction, but what is clear is that your campaigning has made a real difference. Thank you for your effort and commitment so far, but we need your continued support to stop this cruel trade once and for all - Unless a short, maximum journey limit is introduced the numbers may rise again so we must continue to press our case.
According to our analysis, the number of horses transported long distances to slaughter in the European Union fell from around 80,000 in 2009 to around 65,000 in 2010. This analysis was painstakingly conducted using three different sets of data. This means that 15,000 fewer horses had to endure the misery of these needlessly long and brutal journeys in 2010, but that 65,000 each year still desperately need our help.
There are likely to be a number of factors influencing this welcome trend, not least your campaigning. External events, including the economic downturn in Italy have no doubt played their part in the reduction. Perhaps of particular significance is the fact that due to continuing problems with equine infectious anaemia, Romania is currently subject to special rules which have drastically reduced the number of horses they can export.
We believe that your efforts in supporting the campaign are making a real impact:
1. Working together with you, we have brought this trade into the light of the public eye, and across Europe there is greater awareness of the welfare problems caused by these long journeys, making the transport of horses over long distances to slaughter more difficult and less appealing to the industry.
2. Your support for the campaign has helped to improve enforcement, which has put further pressure on transporters. Make no mistake - enforcement is still highly inadequate and with your help we are continuing to press the Commission - but it is now understood that flouting the Regulation carries risks.
3. The improvements you helped us secure within the 2005 Transport Regulation have limited the number of horses transporters can carry at one time and improved the conditions under which they are transported, having the cumulative effect of reducing the trade. While conditions still desperately need to be improved, there is no doubt that the situation is still better than it was before the introduction of the Regulation.
We cannot afford to be complacent. There is a real danger that the number of horses transported could rise again, especially if the current restrictions are lifted from Romania. The only way to be sure that this does not happen is to introduce a short, maximum journey limit.
MEPs have once again shown that they support calls for shortened journey limits for horses intended for slaughter.
AGRI Committee Rapporteur Janusz Wojciechowski has released his draft Own Initiative Report calling for an overall reduction in the number of animals transported, a maximum journey limit of 8 hours for animal transports and more small-scale slaughterhouses across Europe to reduce the need for long-distance transport of animals for slaughter.
ENVI Committee MEP Kartika Liotard has echoed this call in her Opinion on the Commission’s transport report, calling on the Commission and the Council to review Regulation 1/2005 in order to establish a maximum 8-hour limit for the journeys of animals transported for the purpose of being slaughtered.
Meanwhile, in an initial exchange of views on Mr Wojciechowski’s report, Marit Paulsen MEP, who is preparing a report on the Animal Welfare Strategy, expressed her “shock” that the Commission acknowledges in its Report that the current legislation is not in line with the latest scientific assessments on transport and animal welfare.