Yes, We Have Something to Say About the EU (DG SANTE) Visit and Report of 2017 to Turkey Re Live Animal Transport – and The Question Is, What Progress Has Been Made In 2 Years ?

EOA Turkey 2

 

 

From Mark – this is what I have to say.  I am sure Venus will want to say more, and I leave the page open for her to write further posts if she desires.

The text below (at the end) is from the ‘Eurogroup for Animals’ – we have provided the link so that you can see the site. We have reproduced the text in full.

We (WAV) as a group have over the past few weeks have, shall we say, ‘had a different view’ to some organisations over the subject of live animal transportation. As you have probably seen with some of our past posts, we don’t really hold back; and if we feel that not enough is being done by institutions such as the EU with regard prosecutions or following up on specific incidents, then we shall say so; simple as that. We are not simply content to just sit back and accept non action after non action on issues that we consider are so important in the welfare of animals, such as live transportation in extreme temperatures.

So, here are a few instances where we. as an animal  advocate organisation, would for example disagree a bit with the statement which is put out (By Eurogroup) below. We give the statement form the site, and then follow on with our own perspective. This is for you; our visitors, to read and then hopefully discuss. We are not saying that either party is correct or wrong in what they say; there is though, a difference of opinion on the issue, and importantly; how it should be addressed.

 

 

Statement – “Despite a warning from the EU Commission to Member States not to export animals during hot weather conditions, evidence collected by NGOs at the main EU exit points demonstrates that animals are systematically loaded into trucks and vessels regardless of weather forecast and EU requirements”.

Our Comment – we think here that really the Eurogroup are saying that no (or not many) EU member states actually adhere and act to warnings given by the EU about hot weather transportation. So why is the EU continually allowing its member states to ignore what it requests / warns ? From the statement it is clear that even the EU itself, accept that ‘animals are systematically loaded into trucks and vessels regardless of weather forecast and EU requirements’. We would say rather than just continually pushing the actions of member states who break the rules to one side; the EU needs to wake up and through the Commissions, needs to take firm and decisive actions against those member states who are non compliant. What is the point in having a ‘Regulation’ on the so called ‘protection of animals during transport’; ie. 1/2005 of 22nd December 2004, and to which all member states should adhere to, when many of them just turn around and give 2 fingers to the rules ?

 

Statement – “Transportation of live animals outside the EU has proven to be problematic from a welfare point of view even under normal circumstances.”

Our Comment so the EU is basically accepting itself in this statement that live animal transport from a welfare point of view is not really working; or in other words, that member states are not following the regulations to ensure better welfare, or no shipments under such circumstances. If the engine of a particular type / series of car is found to be ‘problematic’; then the manufacturer usually does a recall of vehicles involved and attempts to rectify the problem. So in this case, why is the EU not attempting to look at the reports and evidence provided to them by NGO’s (and there sure is enough !!) and then actually do something to rectify the ‘problems’ ? – you could call it turning an EU blind eye to the problems.

 

Statement .As concluded by DG SANTE: “Due to the inability of the livestock vehicles ventilation system to lower the temperatures in the animal compartment below the external environmental temperature […] it is very difficult for transporters to ensure that animals inside the lorry are kept below 35°C when ambient temperatures are over 30°C”. 

Our Comment – An EU (DG SANTE) ‘fact-finding mission’ took place in Turkey from 5 to 8 September 2017, as part of the published DG Health and Food Safety audit programme. The objective was to collect information on causes of delays in the import of EU animals into Turkey at the Kapitan Andreevo-Kapikule border point, in order to identify actions that allow the transport of live animals to Turkey to operate smoothly, while ensuring a satisfactory level of protection for the animals concerned.

The report concludes that “there is a high risk of causing unnecessary pain and distress to animals transported on this route during hot days”.

Due to the inability of the livestock vehicles’ ventilation system to lower the temperatures in the animal compartment below the external environmental temperature and the limited opening hours of the veterinary control point, it is very difficult for transporters to ensure that animals inside the lorry are kept below 35 degrees C when ambient temperatures are over 30 degrees C. This is made worse by the lengthy administrative procedure”.

 

Section 4 ‘Background’ of the report states:

“After a sudden drop in exports to Turkey between 2012 and 2013 this trade has been increasing significantly in recent years. The number of live ruminants exported to Turkey in 2016 (more than 290,000) has surpassed the numbers for 2011 (more than 280,000) and is expected to reach similar numbers in 2017”.

 

“The central (Turkish) competent authority indicated that national guidance points towards not performing official veterinary controls at the border during the night as there is limited visibility to perform an appropriate inspection”.

 

“There is a dedicated lane for livestock vehicles waiting to undergo veterinary controls.

This lane has one single water source available for vehicles; on the day of the visit there were six (6) trucks present here.

Shade is not available for vehicles waiting to undergo veterinary controls.

There are no facilities at the border inspection post to unload any animals. If the animals are detained due to shortcomings detected during controls, they have to remain in the vehicle”.

 

“The veterinary border control point opens for the veterinary checks at 8:30 and closes at 17:30. During this time, controls stop between 12:00 and 13:00 (lunch break)”.

 

“Conclusions on conditions at the veterinary border control point:

The scarce availability of facilities to address the needs of the animals and the lack of facilities to unload them is a high risk to the welfare of the animals transiting this border, in particular during the hotter periods of the year and/or when they have to be detained. This makes it difficult for transporters to comply with EU rules when travelling along this route”.

 

So, move on to now, almost September 2019; 2 years later; and ask yourself what improvements have there been ? – we ask why is there a ‘limited opening hours (8-30 am to 5-30pm with an hour lunch break !) of the veterinary control point’, when transporter vehicles are turning up at all hours of the day and night often in temperatures that very easily the maximum permitted ? – could it be that the EU authorities really need to talk with Turkish counterparts and ensure that facilities at control points are open 24/7 ? – and could they also not take action to reduce the ‘lengthy administrative procedures’ ? – are we missing something or is this NOT quite rocket science !

 

The (Turkish) competent authority’s response to the recommendations can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/food/audits-analysis/rep_details_en.cfm?rep_inspection_ref=2017-6110

 

Ask the 290.000+ animals being exported if they are now benefitting as a result of the DG SANTE fact finding mission of 2017 and the resulting actions of the Turkish ‘competent’ authority.

We have no further information showing us that there have been any follow up visits by DG SANTE to see if their comments in the report of 2017 have actually been addressed by the Turkish competent authorities. If anyone does have information, then please let us know via the ‘contact’ route.

 

Hungary is one EU member state that has taken action regarding these shipments, and we congratulate them on their actions. The Eurogroup for Animals states:

“We welcome the Hungarian ministerial decision and we urge other Member States to follow this example,” says Reineke Hameleers, director of Eurogroup for Animals. We call on the Member States and the Commission to suspend the live export during summer, as compliance can’t be guaranteed. We need to avoid the immense suffering of the animals as witnessed over the past years at all costs.”

 

We ‘urge’ and we ‘call on’ ! – “We need to avoid the immense suffering of the animals as witnessed over the past years at all costs”.

Here at WAV, we also ‘urge’ and ‘call on’; we call on a 2017 follow up visit and report by DG SANTE to investigate exactly what improvements, if any, there have been. We urge the EU officials and Commissioners to come out from behind their desks in ivory towers and actually take action, in the way of prosecutions, towards members states who are exporting animals in conditions; and who have paperwork which is non compliant with the (1/2005) regulations.

 

How much longer do we have to wait for positive action ?

Will the EU ever really wake up to the issue of live animal transport ?

With all these EU animals being exported to a non EU state, does this not tell us that the EU is overproducing – EU subsidies to pay farmers, to produce, and then export the ‘not required’ produce to non EU nations ?

Like everything with the EU, finance is the driving force. Other issues such as those shown above take a very lowly second place in the stack

We vote for the European Parliament to act on our (EU citizens) behalf. It never really happens with live animals, despite positive votes in the Parliament in the past, the Commissioners never act to follow up what the people and parliament say.

Why ? – that is our simple question – they are in a position to take action – so why don’t they ?

Eurogroup for Animals:

https://www.eurogroupforanimals.org/despite-eu-commissions-heat-wave-alert-most-member-states-are-continuing-to-transport-animals

 

If you’ve been feeling the heat this week, imagine what it’s like for animals crammed into trucks for transportation – often for several days or weeks – without receiving water and veterinary care, and in temperatures largely exceeding 30 degrees. 

Despite a warning from the EU Commission to Member States not to export animals during hot weather conditions, evidence collected by NGOs at the main EU exit points demonstrates that animals are systematically loaded into trucks and vessels regardless of weather forecast and EU requirements.

Transportation of live animals outside the EU has proven to be problematic from a welfare point of view even under normal circumstances. With the increase of temperature, the situation drastically worsens. As concluded by DG SANTE: “Due to the inability of the livestock vehicles ventilation system to lower the temperatures in the animal compartment below the external environmental temperature […] it is very difficult for transporters to ensure that animals inside the lorry are kept below 35°C when ambient temperatures are over 30°C”. 

Some EU countries are starting to take action to ensure that animals don’t have to endure this hell during heatwaves such as this one. Hungary has recently made a ministerial decision to suspend the export of ruminants to Turkey in high temperatures. The suspension applies to all consignments of live animals without air conditioning, and means that if the temperature of the vehicle reaches a maximum of 30°C + 5°C, the vehicle will be directed to the nearest rest station.  The Ministry of Agriculture decision also forbids trucks to continue on from the Hungarian resting places to Turkey if animal welfare conditions are not met. Some restrictions are also in place in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, where due to extreme temperatures for 3 days starting from today, the State Veterinary Administration announced that it will not dispatch consignments of farm animals from the Czech Republic for more than 600 km.

“We welcome the Hungarian ministerial decision and we urge other Member States to follow this example,” says Reineke Hameleers, director of Eurogroup for Animals. We call on the Member States and the Commission to suspend the live export during summer, as compliance can’t be guaranteed. We need to avoid the immense suffering of the animals as witnessed over the past years at all costs.”

The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) stresses that transportation of live animals should not be started if temperatures are expected to exceed 30 degrees during any stage of the journey.

 

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