The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue warned in Luxembourg today (Monday, June 24) that EU proposals on animal welfare should take full account of Ireland’s status as an island nation.

Minister McConalogue is attending the Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting today where “agriculture ministers will seek to approve a set of conclusions on the future of agriculture in the EU”.

He highlighted that the European Commission’s proposals on animal welfare rules during transport “must take into account Ireland’s geographical situation”.

Minister McConalogue said: “Ireland supports the revision of the current animal transport legislation as we must ensure the highest standards of animal welfare at every stage of the animal’s life, including during transport.

“We are an island nation and Irish business operators must have the ability to fully access the Single Market just as those in other member states do.”

Under the commission’s proposals travel times will be shortened and during long journeys, animals must be unloaded for periods of rest, feeding and watering.

Special rules will also apply to animals for slaughter, and to vulnerable animals such as unweaned calves and pregnant animals.

The proposals also specify that the minimum space for different animals will be increased and adapted to each species.

According to the commission rules for the exports of live animals from the European Union will be tightened and that better controls will be introduced in third countries to meet equivalent standards to those in the EU.

Minister McConalogue

Ahead of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting today Minister McConalogue was seen chatting to the outgoing European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevicius.

During a visit to Ireland last November by Commissioner Sinkevicius had discussed Ireland’s nitrates derogation and had also warned that the commission saw “signs” that water quality was getting worse.

Today marked the commissioner’s last Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting and he said he was proud of the progress that had been made.

The Belgian presidency was scheduled to provide an update on four current legislative files at the meeting which included:

  • A proposal for a regulation on plant reproductive material;
  • A proposal for a regulation on forest reproductive material;
  • A proposal for a regulation for a forest monitoring framework;
  • A proposal for a regulation on the protection of animals during transport.