The Agricultural Committee of the European Parliament has responded positively to a proposed amendment to legislation covering livestock transport made by British MEP Neil Parish.
Legislation regarding the protection of animals during transport was on the agenda at a meeting of the Agricultural Committee last week, with the deadline for tabling amendments on Monday (23 February).
Since the publication last summer of new EU draft regulations on the protection of animals during transport, there has been growing concern about the possible resumption of exports from Britain to mainland Europe of horses and ponies for human consumption.
At present, the British government is enforcing the minimum values legislation, which prevents the export of horses and ponies under a certain value. But this legislation has come under the spotlight on the grounds that it contravenes free trade between member states.
The new EU regulations are due to come before the European Parliament before May, and amendments put forward will be considered by the parliament next month.
Neil Parish, MEP for the South West, says: “I put a question to the European Commission on the issue of horse export from the UK to Europe for slaughter. It is something that I am passionate about and have been working closely with various experts.
“The response from the Commission was positive – they said that they were already looking very closely at the possibility of countries like the UK getting a derogation and perhaps applying the minimum values rule.”
But lobbying organisations such as the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) would like to see a complete opt-out clause for Britain to protect all horses, ponies and donkeys from being sent abroad for slaughter.
Jo White, ILPH campaigns manager, says: “The issue in this legislation is the horses at the lower end of the market. The minimum values legislation at the moment is not ideal, and in our opinion, only a complete opt-out would provide protection for horses, ponies and donkeys in Britain.
“We are very encouraged by the commission’s positive response to the suggestion of an opt out clause for Britain, but this is by no means the end of the line. We need this to be clearly detailed in legislative terms so that there is no question of misinterpretation.”
The ILPH is encouraging people to put pressure on ministers and ensure that their concerns are voiced, both by writing letters to MPs and MEPs, and by signing the ILPH petition against the possible resumption of the live export of horses and ponies from Britain.
The petition can be found at: www.ilph.org. For further information or a campaign pack (tel: 0870 906 1927).