Planned sweeping changes to animal transport regulations are a “step closer” to being rejected by MEPs, according to one Irish representative in the European Parliament.

Fianna Fáil MEP Billy Kelleher has said that he has secured the support of his colleagues in the Renew Europe group of political parties in an effort to table amendments to the most radical of the proposals.

The proposals were put forward for a vote in the parliament by its Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals during Transport (ANIT).

The committee proposed several changes, including: a ban on the transport of pregnant animals in the last third of gestation; a maximum journey time of two hours for unweaned animals over 35 days; and a complete ban for unweaned animals under 35 days.

Speaking today (Friday, January 14), Kelleher said: “We are one step closer to getting rid of the impracticable and damaging proposals on pregnant and unweaned animals from the ANIT recommendation.”

He explained that he had succeeded in convincing his Renew Europe colleagues to table alternative amendments.

“Following exhaustive negotiations with colleagues from over 20 member states, I secured support for the re-tabling of the original compromises on these two topics from my colleagues in Renew Europe,” the Ireland South MEP said.

Kelleher went on to say that the two largest groups in the parliament – the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) will also re-table the original compromises.

“While the support of every MEP in each of our three groups is not guaranteed, it is a positive sign that groups representing a majority in the parliament have agreed to re-table these sensible yet pro-animal welfare amendments,” Kelleher said.

He highlighted: “This will be a very difficult vote. MEPs are split 50:50 on this issue and, while the outcome cannot be certain, this week’s decision of the three groups to re-table the more sensible proposals is an important step.

“There are those in the green-left and animal rights movement who are attempting to characterise my proposals as being bad for animal welfare. Taken in the round with the rest of the recommendations, they represent a dramatic shift in favour of improving animal welfare during transport,” the MEP argued.

“Crucially, they do not inhibit the rights of farmers and exporters to transport animals to different markets.”

The vote on these proposals is set to take place next Thursday (January 20).

“Between now and then, I will work to convince more MEPs, especially Irish colleagues, to vote for proposals that improve standards and allow the industry to continue. No Irish MEP should be voting to keep the extreme proposals that I am opposing in the final set of recommendations,” Kelleher concluded.