The European Court of Auditors has criticized existing standards for animal transport in the EU. The auditors see, for example, the risk that transport companies will exploit loopholes in the various national sanction systems, as the EU Court of Auditors announced.
For example, they could choose longer routes to avoid member states with stricter implementation of EU regulations or harsher penalties. In addition, many EU countries generally do not impose deterrent penalties, for example if an animal is transported with a broken leg.
Transport costs are often a fraction of retail prices - making long transport routes more profitable than local production. The report by the EU Court of Auditors cites a study according to which transport accounts for less than one percent of the final price of poultry breast fillets from EU producers sold in Germany.
"To consider animal suffering in meat prices"
According to the EU Court of Auditors, animals are often exposed to stress during long journeys and can suffer from hunger, thirst, heat, and a lack of space and rest. More than a third of all transports in the period from 2017 to 2021 took more than eight hours.
The European Commission wants to present a revision of the animal welfare regulations by the end of the year. "EU policymakers could consider factoring animal suffering into transport costs and factoring it into meat prices," the EU Court of Auditors suggests.
The animal protection organization Four Paws supports the criticism of the Court of Auditors. "Sentient beings have been suffering for far too long on miserably long truck and ship transports," said Ina Müller-Arnke, an expert on animals in agriculture at Four Paws. The EU transport regulation urgently needs to be revised, and the Commission is being asked to come up with an ambitious draft.
According to the EU Court of Auditors, between 2017 and 2021 an average of around 1.6 billion live animals were transported between Member States and to or from non-EU countries every year.