European Union member states must do more to improve the welfare of animals in transit by enforcing rules, checking journey times and imposing dissuasive penalties on offenders, said Agriculture Committee Members of the European Parliament in a recent resolution. 

To shorten journeys to abattoirs, the EU should also promote the use of local abattoirs and consider an eight-hour, EU-wide limit on journey times, said the Members. "Long-distance animal transport causes suffering to animals and increases costs for consumers," said rapporteur Janusz Wojciechowski, ECR, PL. "Unlike the Commission, we believe that animal transport requires immediate action, in particular to reduce the numbers of animals transported and transport times." The resolution was voted with 31 in favor, four against and three abstentions.

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The numbers of animals transported within the EU grew substantially in 2005–2009, with a 70 percent increase in the case of pigs. One-third of these journeys took eight hours or more. To remedy persistent animal welfare problems in transport, existing legislation in all EU member states must be properly and uniformly enforced, said the Members. In addition, more on-the-spot inspections should be carried out and national sanctions against rule-breakers should be harmonized and made far more dissuasive. Measures to restrict the time taken to transport animals to slaughter to eight hours should also be considered, but geographical and science-based exceptions for certain species could be allowed.

The committee called for science-based improvements in transport conditions, including space allowances and water conditions.