Compassion urges veterinary community to help end cruel export of live animals to non-EU countries

NGOs join forces to call on veterinary organisations to highlight welfare threat to farmed animals when exported from the EU

© Compassion in World Farming

Compassion in World Farming has joined forces with five other animal welfare NGOs to urge European veterinarians to use their influence to help end the export of farmed animals to non-EU countries.

The NGOs have written a joint letter to the presidents of both the Federation of Veterinarians and the European Association of State Veterinary Officers highlighting the poor welfare experienced by animals during these long journeys, as well as the high risk of inhumane slaughter on arrival in some destination countries. These practices would be illegal within the EU, but for most destinations the animals have no effective legal protections once they leave the Union.

Veterinarians in Europe are required to inspect the health status of animals destined for export and to sign export health certificates or stamp journey logs. In carrying out these functions, state veterinarians are sometimes put in a difficult position as their contractual obligation to their employer may conflict with their ethical obligation to safeguard the wellbeing of animals.

For example, millions of live EU sheep and cattle endure long and stressful sea journeys to the Middle East or Africa where they face inhumane slaughter practices that would not be allowed in the EU.

In November, Compassion in World Farming and Eurogroup for Animals released a report, A data dump of suffering: the EU’s long-distance trade in farm animals exposed, which revealed the extent and nature of suffering endured by around 44 million farmed cattle, sheep, pigs and other animals transported annually within the EU and to non-EU countries.

In December 2023, the European Commission put forward revised proposals on Transport Regulation which neglected to address the key welfare issues faced by animals exported to non-EU countries. The signatories of this joint letter are urging those representing the veterinary community in the EU to use their influence to raise the issue with MEPs to call for legislation to ban the cruel practice of exporting live farmed animals outside of the EU. 

Peter Stevenson, Chief Policy Advisor at Compassion in World Farming said: “We have been campaigning against the cruel practice of live animal exports for decades, and our recent report revealed the true horror and extent of the trade for the millions of animals transported from the EU each year.

“We know the veterinary community in Europe would not willingly exacerbate the unnecessary suffering of farmed animals. Our hope is that by raising the issue with these organisations, they will call on Member States to halt live exports and on MEPs to introduce legislation to ban the export of animals beyond Member States’ borders, for good.”