April 28, 2004. Immediate use
EU LIVE EXPORT 'FAILURE' WELCOMED
Government urged to retain protection for horses or face
Viva! today welcomed news that the EU Agriculture Council
has failed to reach agreement on the draft Regulations on
Transportation of Animals. These proposals would have allowed
transport times for live animals to be measured in days not
hours and would have removed the existing protections which
prevent British horses and ponies from being exported and
slaughtered for meat.
The vegetarian campaign expressed concern that the Government
had appeared to set its face against attempting to retain
this protection, even though the EU had indicated it was willing
to consider such a request. It also warned that any weakening
of the protection in the absence of new regulations would
be fiercely resisted by campaign groups and the public, who
were overwhelmingly opposed to the horse meat trade.
In initial negotiations, the UK Government called for a maximum
eight-hour journey time for all slaughter animals. Having
failed to achieve this, it then bizarrely welcomed the alternative
proposal, which would have seen journey times measured in
days. Viva!, whose campaign in Poland against live horse exports
to the EU has seen numbers drop dramatically, claims that
its investigations throughout Europe show that existing rules
are consistently flouted and animal suffering can be extreme.
Viva! campaigner Alistair Currie says: "The proposals
on offer were never acceptable - they were about protecting
the industry, not protecting animals. All the talk about rest
periods and better enforcement did nothing to address the
fundamental problems of low animal welfare standards, poor
compliance and horrendously long journeys. The Government
was also apparently prepared to allow horses to be exported
for meat again for the first time in decades and was prepared
to try and sell this betrayal to a sceptical public as an
improvement in animal welfare. The Council's failure to reach
agreement provides an opportunity to renegotiate a set of
standards that protect all animals and offer the realistic
prospect of an end to this despicable trade."
Still and video images of horses being transported in Europe
are available from Viva!.