Animal welfare: Commission reduces
export refunds for live cattle
In order to take account of animal welfare concerns, a regulation(1) reducing the cases for which a refund for the export of live bovine animals can be granted has come into force today. This regulation also provides for a substantial simplification of the scheme by eliminating 26 lines of export refunds for live animals. From today, export refunds will no longer be granted for slaughter animals, except to third countries which need to satisfy their traditional demand for cultural and/or religious reasons. Moreover, with regard to pure-bred breeding animals, and in order to prevent abuse of the refund system, the payment of export refunds will be limited to females of 30 months or less. The consequence of this decision is the dramatic reduction of the number of cases for which an export refund can be granted for live animals. Furthermore, on 21 January the Commission services have presented a draft regulation to reinforce veterinary controls and sanctions in case of non-compliance with the animal welfare legislation. These two legislative initiatives follow the announcement made in the Mid-Term Review of July 2002 where the Commission announced "to reinforce the conditions and controls under which export subsidies for live animals can be granted".
By eliminating 26 refund lines, from today, export refunds for live animals will exclusively be granted in the two following cases:
For animals for slaughter: only in the case of export of male animals to third countries traditionally importing substantial numbers of such animals for cultural and/or religious reasons (Egypt and Lebanon).
For pure-bred breeding animals: where the refund rate is higher than the one for animals for slaughter, payment of export refunds shall be limited to heifers and cows of no more than 30 months in order to prevent any abuse of the refund system. For example, where older animals are exported with reduced reproductive value and increased likelihood of slaughter soon after export.
As to the reinforcement of veterinary controls and sanctions in case of non-compliance with the animal welfare legislation, the Commission has presented a proposal on 21 January 2003 to modify Regulation (EC) 615/98. This Regulation requires that the payment of export refunds for live bovine animals is subject to compliance with EU rules on animal welfare during transport(2). The Commission now proposes to reinforce the system, in particular by establishing compulsory veterinary controls in third countries for every consignment and increasing sanctions in case of non-compliance with the rules on animal welfare during transport. Controls in third countries will take place at the place of changing the means of transport and at the place of the first unloading in the third country of final destination.
(1)Commission Regulation (EC) No 118/2003 of 23 January 2003 (JO L 20, 24.1.03)