EU Animal-Welfare Laws Extended to Exports

     (CN) – Animal-welfare laws aimed at making cattle comfortable during long hauls also apply to animals transported to markets outside the EU’s borders, the European Court of Justice ruled Thursday.
     The European Union views animals as sentient beings, protecting them with wide-ranging welfare rules and governing how they are transported.
     For long road trips, cattle must be taken off the truck after 14 hours for water, feed and an hours’ rest. They’re then allowed to travel another 14 hours before being unloaded for a 24-hour rest.
     So German customs officials understandably balked over a cattle exporter’s plan to transport 62 head to Uzbekistan, a journey of 4,350 miles over 10 days. While the exporter’s journey log followed the rules within the EU, the stops for feeding and watering were few and far between once the trucks left Europe – with no plan to unload the cattle at all when stops were made in Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan.
     The exporter sued for customs clearance, arguing that animal-welfare laws can’t be applied once the animals leave the EU’s borders. The Bavarian court hearing the case asked the European Court of Justice to weigh in on whether customs officials have the authority to block cattle exports when any alleged noncompliance would take place outside the EU.
     On Thursday, the Luxembourg-based court ruled that EU requirements for cattle exports to third countries are no different than those governing transport within member states.
     “The regulation provides that, for long journeys between member states and between member states and third countries, organizers and transporters are to comply with the provisions on the journey log,” the court wrote. “The same is true of the obligations keepers of animals have for long journeys in terms of checks and documentation in relation to the journey log.”
     Furthermore, the exporter has an obligation to submit a realistic plan for the journey, detailing all stops for feeding, watering and unloading for rest, the court said.
     And if the customs official has uncertainties that the exporter’s plan can be adhered to outside the EU’s borders, he has the power to block the export or require appropriate changes, the court concluded.

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