Agriculture ministers of European Union (EU) member states have advised against an outright ban or severe restrictions on animal transport.

Discussing the European Commission’s ongoing review of animal transport regulations, a number of member state ministers urged it to steer clear of a ban or overly stringent restrictions.

They instead suggested that any animal welfare regulation changes should be based off the best scientific and technical knowledge available.

Ireland's Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue suggested that Brussels should draw from the “experiences and good practices of member states in implementing and enforcing the current [animal welfare] legislation”.

He and his European counterparts were speaking at an Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting on Monday morning.

Portuguese Minister for Agriculture Maria do Céu Antunes tabled a paper on the animal regulation review, which initially caused significant concern among EU farm stakeholders in early 2022.


Minister McConalogue also warned that any revision to animal transport regulations, such as that affecting maximum livestock journey times, must take into account the geographic situation facing some member states.

“Trade in live animals is an intricate part of the functioning of the agri-food sector. Diversity of geographical situations and production systems must be recognised – Ireland is an island nation,” he said.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue. \ Philip Doyle

The Minister highlighted that “Ireland has introduced national legislation that goes beyond the minimum laid down in existing EU rules” and said that the current EU legislation should be enforced.

He also called on the Commission to undertake a “comprehensive” impact assessment of its proposed animal transport regulation changes before finalisation.

“The primary objective of the revision of the legislation should be the continued facilitation of the high welfare intra-community trade and export of live animals rather than the prohibition or limiting of certain types of transport,” he said.


Greek Minister for Agriculture Georgios Georgantas supported Minister McConalogue’s position, explaining that farmers on many of Greece’s islands would face challenges if animal transport regulations were to be made too stringent.

Commencing the debate, his Portuguese counterpart minister do Céu Antunes highlighted that animal transport is “one of the most visible parts of animal production and it attracts the attention and concerns of the public”.

However, she said that in the focus on this issue, and the review of the regulation, it cannot be forgotten that “animal transport is crucial when it comes to the proper functioning of the animal food production process”.

Portuguese Minister for Agriculture Maria do Céu Antunes said that animal transport can draw public concern. \ Philip Doyle

The Portuguese agriculture minister said that high levels of animal welfare in intra-community trade and the export of live animals is required and that this will support rural communities across Europe.

In its overhaul of animal welfare laws, the European Commission is expected to bring forward proposals in the second half of 2023. Member state agriculture ministers called on the Commission to take their views into account.

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