Live animal transport in Europe

EU Member States Take Action Against Legal Violations on Live Animal Transports

FOUR PAWS warns that without a comprehensive EU-wide solution, violations will continue


30 July 2020 – Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS welcomes recent developments in EU Member States to suspend live animal transports in third countries. The Netherlands, as well as more recently all the key exporting Federal States in Germany, have suspended transports to third countries, while Austria has stopped transporting animals via Russia. Despite this important step in favour of animal welfare, suspensions of long distance transport by single Member States can be ineffective if these same animals are transported via other Member States. FOUR PAWS demands a comprehensive EU-wide ban of live animal transports in third countries and urges Germany to use its current Presidency of the European Council and put the topic on the EU-Agenda urgently. Only an aligned ban and a switch to the transport of meat and genetic material, such as semen, can ensure that millions of animals are spared from enduring long and excruciating journeys in cruel conditions.

The EU Transport Regulation is routinely violated when live animal transports to third countries happen. The obligatory resting stops and watering and feeding intervals are regularly not complied to and often result in the animals suffering a cruel and preventable death. In July 2020, FOUR PAWS filed 21 legal complaints against veterinary authorities, transport operators and transport companies in Germany that approved and carried out illegal transports to third countries. The complaints and the resulting pressure from the public led to rapid suspensions of the exports by the key exporting Federal States to investigate the allegations. By July 28th, all key exporting federal states suspended these transports. 

“Following the important steps taken by Austria, the Netherlands and mostly recently multiple German Federal States, it is more crucial than ever that these animals are not transported to other EU countries who will break the law by transporting the animals to third countries. Instead of sentient beings, the transport should focus on meat and genetic material such as semen. With the main exporting German Federal States suspending the transports to address these violations, we call upon the current German EU Presidency to build upon the recent developments and help prevent future violations by introducing an EU-wide ban of live animal transports to third countries,” 

says Nina Jamal, Head of International Farm Animal Campaigns at FOUR PAWS.

EU transport regulations must finally consider animal welfare

Every year more than one billion poultry and 37 million live cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and horses are transported across borders within the EU and to third countries. The animals suffer greatly during the journeys that often last weeks and many endure dehydration, hunger, fear and stress. In June 2020, the European Parliament set an important milestone by voting in favour of establishing a Committee of Inquiry on live animal transports. This committee was tasked with addressing the protection of millions of farmed animals from poorly enforced EU law in the Member States. Following the momentum of these recent impactful decisions, FOUR PAWS calls on all European member states and the European Institutions to work collectively to only transport meat instead of animals in order to prevent the massive animal welfare problems that occur during live animal transports. In parallel, EU authorities need to invest in sustainable solutions that reduce the suffering of animals during live transports, such as a limiting the transport duration to a maximum of eight hours, more unannounced checks and tougher sanctions for infringements.

Live animal transport in Europe

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Katharina Braun

Katharina Braun

Team Lead Public Relations

+43 (0) 664 885 33 270

VIER PFOTEN International 
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1150 Vienna, Austria

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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.

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