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The European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) approved Estonia’s positions on the proposal for a regulation on the protection of animals during transport and related operations.

It was pointed out at the sitting of the Committee that amending the regulation would mainly have an impact on our farmers who transport farm animals out of the country. Due to Estonia’s location, the requirements provided for by the regulation have a significant restrictive effect on transporting of animals out of the country, including export.

Chair of the European Union Affairs Committee Liisa Pakosta considers this a very stupid proposal. “This is a kind of misguided and emotional approach, which would have an unfairly large impact on the Estonian livestock farming and food industry and on food prices,” Pakosta said. She noted that the proposal was like an attempt to exclude the Nordic countries from animal transport, as according to the proposal, the transport of animals would be forbidden when the ambient air temperature was below -5°C. “To make the transport of animals dependent on the temperature outside, but not, for example, on the temperature inside the truck, is unacceptable and would put unfair restrictions on Estonian livestock farmers.”

Pakosta added that the proposal would also unnecessarily increase the CO2 footprint. “The notions that trucks should be made much larger because cattle might prefer to lie down during transport instead of standing, or the requirement for dogs to undergo veterinary treatment before a car journey to reduce the stress of car transport, or the requirement that a vet should always stand next to the animals when they are being loaded—examples like these unfortunately suggest that it is not properly thought through at all,” Pakosta pointed out.

Member of the European Union Affairs Committee Arvo Aller commented that if the regulation were to enter into force in its current form, only sheep and horses could be exported from Estonia in the future, and the export ban would also have an indirect impact on the dairy sector, as 28% of cattle exports was made up of calves and heifers sold for rearing in other countries. “If species-specific rest periods are imposed on the transporters and very specific car fleet is required for transport of animals, there will probably be less transporters in the future. In any case, it is a clear risk of marketing restriction,” Aller underlined.

It was also pointed out at the sitting that the regulation on the protection of animals during transport had been in force for nearly 20 years and was considered outdated by the European Commission, animal welfare organisations and European citizens. Estonia supports the general objectives set by the European Union and the creation of common standards, but considers it important that the requirements established are based on the recommendations of scientific evaluation to improve welfare, take into account the geographical specificities of Member States and are proportionate. Estonia supports the adoption of innovative digital solutions to simplify the administration of businesses and to control and improve animal welfare.

The regulation will not cover non-commercial transport of pets, like visits to the vet.

The European Union Affairs Committee decided to approve Estonia’s positions on the draft regulation with amendments, emphasising the importance of evidence-based approach. Estonia does not support initiatives to improve animal welfare that are not based on evidence.

Chief Specialist of Animal Health and Welfare Ulrika Tuppits and Line Manager Kadri Kaugerand from the Food Safety Department of the Ministry of Regional Affairs and Agriculture gave an overview of the initiative and the Government’s positions regarding it at the sitting of the Committee.

For more information, please contact: Liisa Pakosta, phone +372 502 6191

Riigikogu Press Service
Merilin Kruuse
+372 631 6592; +372 510 6179
[email protected]
Questions: [email protected]