MEP for Ireland South and Fine Gael’s leader in the European Parliament, Sean Kelly, has expressed his optimism about the passage of the resolution this week regarding animal transport.

MEPs voted yesterday (Thursday, January 20) to reject the strictest regulations contained in a set of proposals to tighten rules around animal transport brought forward by the parliament’s Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals during Transport (ANIT).

The key proposals brought forward by the committee were: A complete ban on the transport of unweaned animals under 35 days of age; a maximum journey time of two hours for unweaned animals over 35 days; and a ban on the transport of pregnant animals in the last third of gestation.

The amendments adopted yesterday will see less severe and more flexible alternatives put in place, rather than the original proposals.

Speaking from Strasbourg following the result in the plenary session of the parliament, MEP Kelly acknowledged that while EU animal welfare legislation is one of the most advanced in the world, Europe cannot hide from the fact that some of these standards are not always implemented adequately across member states.

“I fully support practical steps in improving animal welfare standards in Europe and for the most part, this motion contains many positive aspects to that end,” Kelly said.

“Indeed, Ireland has gone above and beyond EU regulation in ensuring animal welfare during transport.

“I am thankful to my Irish colleagues, who proposed amendments to this bill, with the EPP Group ensuring that we reached a balanced agreement.

“However, farmers are on the frontline of many core issues we face today, from climate change to animal welfare. We must not lose sight of the fact that this is a livelihood for millions of people, to which farmers are deeply and emotionally committed.”

Kelly added that the motion passed in the EU Parliament seeks to safeguard farmers’ access to bring calves into the EU single market and guarantees improved animal welfare.