The European Parliament will hold a series of votes this morning (Thursday, January 20) on proposed changes to rules around animal transport.

The proposals come from the parliament’s Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals during Transport.

The key proposals from the committee that affect Ireland are: 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.

These mooted rules have had amendments tabled which would alter them and make them slightly less strict. However, there are 30 amendments to be voted on, and some of them in fact make the proposals more severe.

The amendments which would be considered favourable from the point of view of Irish agriculture (bearing in mind that the proposals will, in general, see tighter rules) are amendments one to four, which in effect are actually two amendments. as the first and second have the same wording as the third and fourth respectively.

As Agriland has already covered, these amendments would reduce the minimum age for transport of unweaned animals down to 28 days: allow transport below this age for distances less than 50km (when the farmer does the transporting); and allow for the transport of pregnant animals in the last third of gestation up to a maximum of four hours.

However, some Irish MEPs are concerned about amendments 10 and 11, which would go further than the current proposals as they stand.

Amendment 10 would recommend a maximum journey time for transport by sea of 24 hours.

The original text of the corresponding article in the proposals makes no mention of this.

Furthermore, the original article says that “journey time for domestic animals going to slaughter should, in principle, not exceed eight hours”. However, the amendment would remove the phrase “in principle”, making flexibility on this point less likely.

It would also remove reference to “domestic animals going to slaughter,” thus applying the rule to all animals transported across land.

Amendment 11 would call on the European Commission to create a list of third countries (non-EU countries) whose regulations on animal transport are “at least” as strict as in the EU, and to ban transport to any country not on that list.

The corresponding original article mentions a list of this type, but does not insist on only exporting to countries on it.

This amendment also calls on the commission to ensure animals are not exported to a second third country once exported to a country on this list.

The original text does not ban this practice, and instead calls for the commission to develop a control system to ensure that the conditions in the transport of animals to one third country and then to another is consistent with EU rules.

The results of these votes in the European Parliament will be known at around midday today Irish time.

Stay tuned to Agriland for further coverage…