The decision of three of the European Parliament’s largest political groups to re-table less-restrictive amendments to proposed EU animal transport measures has been described as “sensible” and an “important step” by Fianna Fáil MEP Billy Kelleher.
The Renew Europe, European People's Party, and the Socialists and Democrats groups have agreed to table the original compromises following discussions in Brussels this week.
The position from some of Europe’s biggest political players comes ahead of a crucial vote next week on new animal transport proposals put forward by the parliament’s Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals during Transport (ANIT).
As it currently stands, ANIT is recommending a significant tightening of the regulations around the movement of livestock, which will prohibit the transport of unweaned calves under 35 days of age.
ANIT’s proposals could also impose transport time limits of two hours for unweaned animals older than 35 days and a ban on the transport of pregnant animals in the last third of gestation.
Notably, the proposals will not only be applicable for animal transport between member states, but also within them.
Amendments put forward by Billy Kelleher MEP include a move to reduce the age limit on the transport of unweaned calves back to 28 days from the 35 currently proposed.
These amendments are described by Kelleher as the “original compromises” which had been discussed at the ANIT committee last month before more restrictive amendments were tabled by what he described as “green and left-leaning” MEPs.
Billy Kelleher MEP said: “While the support of every MEP in each of our three groups is not guaranteed, it is a positive sign that groups representing a majority in the parliament have agreed to re-table these sensible, yet pro-animal welfare, amendments.
“We are one step closer to getting rid of the impracticable and damaging proposals on pregnant and unweaned animals from the ANIT recommendation.”
Kelleher said that following negotiations, he has been successful at “convincing his Renew Europe colleagues to table alternative amendments this week”.
However, Kelleher warned that the European Parliament is still split 50:50 on the animal transport proposals and said next week’s vote will be a difficult one.
“There are those in the green-left and animal rights movements who are attempting to characterise my proposals as being bad for animal welfare.
“Taken in the round with the rest of the recommendations, they represent a dramatic shift in favour of improving animal welfare during transport.
“Crucially, they do not inhibit the rights of farmers and exporters to transport animals to different markets.”
The Cork-based politician said no Irish MEP should be voting to keep the “extreme proposals that I am opposing” in the final set of recommendations.
A vote on the proposals of the ANIT committee will take place next Thursday in Strasbourg.