MEPs have voted to reject the strictest regulations contained in a set of proposals to tighten rules in animal transport.

Two amendments to those proposals – backed by several Irish MEPs – were adopted by the European Parliament this afternoon (Thursday, January 20) by comfortable margins.

The key proposals brought forward by the parliament’s Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals during Transport 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 today will see less severe and more flexible alternatives put in place, rather than these original proposals.

The first amendment with strong Irish interest was to reduce the minimum age of transport of unweaned animals back to 28 days, and to allow transport below this age for journeys of less than 50km (where the farmer did the transporting).

This amendment was passed by 372 votes to 280, and 43 abstentions.

The second amendment, which will allow transport of pregnant animals in the last third of gestation for a maximum of four hours, was also accepted, by 428 votes to 223 and 44 abstentions.

Two other amendments which also caused concern were voted on today. However, some Irish MEPs were hoping that these other amendments would be rejected, as they went further than the original animal transport proposals.

Both of these two other amendments were defeated: An amendment to limit transport by sea to 24 hours was rejected in two separate votes; while an amendment to ban transport to non-EU countries (third countries) with less strict regulations was also voted down – though by a relatively slim margin of only 47 votes.

There is still some way to go before determining if the finalised set of proposals will have legal force. If they are to do so, the EU’s complex legislative process will have to play out.

Stay tuned to Agriland for further coverage of today’s votes…