Formulating policies for the welfare of animals during long distance transportation

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Long distance transportation of animals creates much public concern in the European Union (EU) and elsewhere, partly because of its visibility to the general public. The protection of animals during transport is thus a key element of EU policy for farm animal welfare. At the same time, animal transport has been vital to the structure of the food chain in Europe since the beginning of the Common Agricultural Policy. The authors describe the formulation of EU policy on long distance transportation. Initiatives are based on scientific risk assessment and considerations of international guidelines. The two main objectives of EU policy are to reduce long distance transportation as far as possible and to upgrade standards for transported animals. The extent of detail in regulations depends on the ability of the sector concerned to address issues and on continual upgrading of the awareness and knowledge of transport operators on animal welfare which is universally important for progress. The economic impact of legislative measures must be evaluated as part of the policy process, noting that proper animal welfare standards can generate direct and indirect economic advantages. Awareness of these welfare advantages in all sectors is essential for raising the quality of enforcement. Finally, policy goals should be monitored to verify the extent of their fulfilment. Efforts from competent authorities and transport companies in Europe are improving the situation. However, a strong legislative framework is likely to remain the best option for the coming years to ensure that the welfare of transported animals is more than just a minimum.


open access article