Pigs being transported

Animal Welfare is a 'High Priority' for EU

Commissioner tells member states


Brussels/Vienna, 30 January 2023 – Today, at the Agriculture and Fisheries meeting of the Council of the EU, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides stated that animal transport is a key part of the revision process and a “high priority for the Commission”.

This comes in a big year for animal welfare as the European Commission will evaluate all animal welfare legislation and whether “the legal framework is still adequately protecting the animals in the EU”.

Kyriakides added that proposals will be based on “updated scientific opinion and evidence”, and that when certain practices were not working, the rules must be changed. Whilst farmers would be supported to transition to new systems, the welfare of the animals must be ensured.

The debate came as a result as a delegation of EU Member States proposed reforms on the animal transport legislation.  

The paper, which global animal welfare organistion FOUR PAWS called “backward”, proposed a continuation of live animal exports within and outside the EU instead of supporting a shift to further developing the use of a cold chain and export of meat and carcasses rather than live animals. Other recommendations also include the need for the improvement of transport conditions, as well as planning and contingency plans.

“The paper was fundamentally backward and lacked ambition. Commissioner Kyriakides was right to remind Member States that it is the welfare of animals that is the objective of these proposals, not the continuation of a broken system.

What animal welfare organistions and EU citizens want to see is an end to millions of animals who are being put at risk, suffering from dehydration, fatigue, thirst, harm, illness, and even death. We now expect the Commission to deliver an ambitious proposal later this year. FOUR PAWS expects a proposal that contains a clear prohibition of live exports.”

Joe Moran, Director of European Policy Office at FOUR PAWS

Germany highlighted the scientific evidence given by The European Food Safety Authority on the animal welfare risks resulting in long duration of transports and extreme temperatures and the consideration of societal demands when deciding on this issue. Germany concluded that long exports to third countries are not acceptable.

The Netherlands and Denmark remarked that too many cases of suffering in the past have shown that transport of livestock to third countries should be avoided, and animal-friendly alternatives should be implemented and adjusted to specific animal needs. This was supported by Finland and Luxembourg who highlighted the transport of meat and genetic material as an alternative to live exports for slaughter.


The Agriculture and Fisheries (AGRIFISH) formation of the Council of the EU adopts legislation, in conjunction with the European Parliament, in a number of areas relating to the production of food, rural development and the management of fisheries.

Paper from the Portuguese delegation on behalf of the French, Greek, Irish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish delegations - Revision of animal transport legislation - an essential part of the food production: https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-5346-2023-INIT/en/pdf

Legislation: Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 of 22 December 2004 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations and amending Directives 64/432/EEC and 93/119/EC and Regulation (EC) No 1255/97

Animal welfare – revision of EU legislation:

 In the upcoming year, the European Commission is putting most of the laws and regulations concerning animal welfare through a thorough fitness check. They will evaluate whether the legal framework is still adequately protecting the animals in the European Union. As part of this longer process, the European Commission has launched a Public Consultation to give all European residents the chance to share their opinions and priorities.

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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org

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