15 November 1995

Doc. 7427

REPORT1 on animal welfare and livestock transport in Europe

(Rapporteur: Mr MICHELS, Germany, Group of the European People's Party)


Summary

      The increased public attention given to animal welfare issues in most European countries has triggered off a new political debate on the international legislation and practices in this field. Particular attention has been given to the international transport of live animals, which forms the main core of the present report. It also, to a lesser degree, deals with animal husbandry in general.

      Member states and the European Commission are asked to take urgent action for the improvement of the treatment of livestock during international transport, for example by reducing travel times, improving watering and feeding conditions and the quality of the transport itself (equipment of lorries, training of personnel, etc.). The report also calls for a thorough review of animal husbandry practices with a view to bringing these into line with the Council of Europe conventions in this field: European Convention for the Protection of Animals during International Transport, European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes and European Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter. All European states and the European Union should become parties to these conventions.

      Finally, the report calls on the Council of Europe to increase its assistance to the countries of central and eastern Europe needing an upgrading of legislation and skills for improved animal welfare.

I. Draft recommendation

1.       The Assembly, referring to its earlier reports on different aspects of animal welfare, commends the Committee of Ministers on the important work undertaken by the Council of Europe in this field. It also welcomes the new importance given to animal welfare in the European Union.

2.       The Assembly is, however, concerned that not all Council of Europe member states and states whose parliaments enjoy special guest status with the Assembly have signed the three conventions on the welfare of farm animals, that is to say:

      —th       e European Convention for the Protection of Animals during International Transport (ETS No. 65) (1968);—

      —th       e European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes (ETS No. 87) (1976);—

      —th       e European Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter (ETS No. 102) (1979).3.

3.       The Assembly is also concerned that this legislation is not always respected in all signatory states and may be violated without punishment.

4.       The Assembly is particularly worried about many reports on the ill treatment of animals during international transport and on suffering caused to animals due to unnecessary waiting times at border crossings, which could be avoided by giving priority to live animal transport.

5.       It is of the opinion that such incidents damage the image and quality of meat and its marketing, as well as respect for the farming profession.

6.       Consequently, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

a.       ask the parties to the European Convention for the Protection of Animals during International Transport, in co-operation with the European Commission:

      i.       to improve as a matter of urgency the conditions for the international transport of livestock, in particular by reducing travel and waiting times, improving transport facilities (lorries), watering and feeding, and by training the personnel involved (training manuals) in line with the spirit and letter of the convention and the connected recommendations and resolutions;

      ii.       to entrust such transport only to persons and/or companies with certified qualifications;

      iii.       to strengthen the control mechanisms for the implementation of legislation and introduce penalties for any conduct contrary to it, in particular by making refund rates for animal transport dependent on the state of the animals on arrival in the country of destination;

      iv.       to avoid, in general, any unnecessary transport of live animals by, for example, slaughtering animals close to their breeding places, acknowledging that small abattoirs can have the same standards as larger ones.

b.       draw the attention of the Standing Committee of the European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes and the parties to the European Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter to the need for:

      i.       assuring that the spirit and letter of these conventions and the connected recommendations and resolutions are implemented;

      ii.       introducing and monitoring necessary control measures;

      iii.       penalising breaches of the conventions;

      iv.       implementing relevant training for all the personnel involved (production of training manuals);

c.       encourage non-signatory member states to accede to these conventions;

d.       invite states whose parliaments enjoy special guest status with the Assembly to sign the conventions;

e.       make the necessary resources available, including secretariat resources, for the continuation of work needed to implement and improve these international legal instruments and, in particular analyse the feasibility of financing these and related agreements within the framework of a partial agreement;

f.       include specific activities within its assistance programmes for the new democracies of central and eastern Europe, with a view to informing, improving legislation and offering training in the fields covered by the animal welfare conventions of the Council of Europe. Assistance for the upgrading of local slaughter capacities is of particular importance in order to allow export of carcasses, notably to the European Union.

II. Explanatory memorandum

by Mr MICHELS

Contents

Page

1.       Introduction        4

2.       Animal welfare and the transport of live animals       6

3.       Animal husbandry and the slaughtering of animals       12

4.       Final remarks       13

Appendix: Council of Europe conventions in the field of animal welfare:

—       European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for

      Farming Purposes       15

—       European Convention for the Protection of Animals during

      International Transport       17

—       European Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter       20

—       The other conventions       21

1. Introduction

      In most European countries public interest in animal welfare issues is steadily increasing. This can partly be put down to the widespread affluence that enables us to undertake a critical reappraisal of our relationship with animals but also obliges us to give animals more attention and respect them more than was the case in the past, when basic economic conditions were different and people were poorer. It will certainly also be partly due to the fact that we have a different relationship with animals today than people had in the agrarian society of the past.

      As far as animal welfare is concerned, the central question in this context is whether we can justify the pain, suffering, damage or other harm inflicted on animals.

      More and more people regard this as an important ethical challenge, and awareness of this problem has increased considerably. Animals are creatures close to humans and should be subject to particularly respectful care and protection.

      We continue to be a long way away from reaching a general consensus on the protection of animals. This becomes apparent both within individual European states and in their relations with one another.

      On the one hand, many citizens are committed to animal welfare, and they cannot understand why governments, members of parliament and civil servants are not giving their support to it and to further improvements in the law both more vigorously and more successfully than they have done up to now. Many consumers feel outrage when seeing pictures of animals suffering from mistreatment. This has considerably damaged the image of animal farmers and the whole industry. Respect for animal farming must be regained by adopting responsible animal welfare practices.

      On the other hand, it is necessary to take into account that the economic situation in many areas of life has become more difficult, which means that we often face a tremendous uphill struggle, with the need to compete becoming a predominant concern. International commitments under the GATT also frequently make it hard for us to implement our ideas on protecting animals. Markets are supposed to be opened up more and more, and economic considerations are our main concern here too. The entry into force of the European Union's single market, with its easing of the free movement of goods, has also further aggravated problems in some sectors as far as animal welfare is concerned. It is true that animal husbandry is governed by economic principles but in my country we have a saying that "anyone loving animals also loves his fellow humans".

      Politicians are expected to make quick and radical decisions, but it usually takes them a very long time because decision-making structures are complicated. Many citizens find this hard to comprehend. They cannot understand why all these things are so difficult and why improvements in animal welfare legislation cannot be made more quickly.

      The Council of Europe established initiatives for improving the protection of animals very early on, and to date five international agreements have been signed in this area. These conventions are:

      —Eu       ropean Convention for the Protection of Animals during International Transport (Paris, 13.12.1968; ETS No. 65);—

      —Eu       ropean Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes (Strasbourg, 10.3.1976; ETS No. 87);—

      —Eu       ropean Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter (Strasbourg, 10.5.1979; ETS No. 102);—

      —Eu       ropean Convention for the Protection of Vertebrate Animals used for Experimental and other Scientific Purposes (Strasbourg, 18.3.1986; ETS No. 123);—

      —Eu       ropean Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals (Strasbourg, 13.11.1987; ETS No. 125).Th

      The conventions of particular interest for the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development are those dealing with animal husbandry, animal transport and the slaughter of animals. A brief summary of the Council of Europe conventions is given in the appendix.

      During the autumn of 1994 and the spring of 1995, the transport of live animals became one of the hottest items on the political agenda of the European Union Agricultural Council (of Ministers). The Committees on Agriculture and Rural Development of the Parliamentary Assembly and the European Parliament therefore held a joint meeting, on 22 February 1995, to discuss the transport of live animals.

2. Animal welfare and the transport of live animals

      Although the relevant international rules have been in force for twenty-five years the transport of livestock is still at the centre of the debate on animal welfare.

      In the area of animal welfare, as in other areas, our scope for action is being determined more and more by the European Union. As such, the protection of animals has not yet been enshrined in the European Community Treaty. It is true that, both during the preparation of the Single European Act and the Treaty on European Union (Treaty of Maastricht), Germany — with the support of the European Parliament — put its weight behind enshrining animal welfare in the European treaties, but no agreement has yet been reached.

      However, based on a British-German initiative, the Treaty on European Union (Treaty of Maastricht) does contain a very important declaration on the protection of animals that sets the course for future action:

      "The conference requests the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, as well as member states, to take full account of animal welfare when drawing up and implementing Community rules in the areas of the Common Agricultural Policy, transport, the single market and research."

      This request issued by the European heads of government underscores the political importance that attaches to the protection of animals. Our common objective should also be to translate into the appropriate action at European level our ethical desire that animals be treated with a sense of responsibility.

      This also applies in particular to the transport of livestock.

      Here we must allow ourselves to be asked the question whether, for example, it is necessary to transport horses from the United States, South America, Poland and other eastern European countries thousands of kilometres in order to slaughter them within the European Union.

      We must also take a critical look at the export of livestock for slaughter in third countries.

      There continues to be urgent need for action with respect to transport of animals for slaughter. Disgraceful practices, reported on again and again by the media, must not be tolerated. Animals have the right to be treated responsibly and to be given the appropriate protection from the time they are being reared through the period of transportation until they are slaughtered. Special international and supranational rules are necessary here in particular.

      It would, of course, be better as far as animal welfare is concerned for animals to be slaughtered in their country of origin and for their meat then to be transported to the countries of destination. However, efforts in this direction have not had the desired effect up to now. The supplier countries frequently claim that there is insufficient slaughtering and refrigeration capacity of the type necessary to meet the EU's strict hygiene regulations. Moreover, the special features of the market in some countries require the marketing of live animals.

      There is also increasing concern that the meat of animals subjected to the stress of transport might be of inferior quality.

      Finally, from the economic point of view the main question involved is who is to be given the possibility of benefiting from the value added when the animals are slaughtered — whether this value added should benefit the countries that have an excess supply of animals for slaughter or those that need to import meat and meat products.

      As far as animal welfare is concerned, the sudden change of environment when animals are transported places them under great stress. As a rule the transport leads to

      —th       eir being taken away from their keepers, animals of the same herd or flock and the buildings housing them;—

      —un       familiar stress during loading and unloading;—

      —re       strictions on their movement;—

      —fi       ghting with animals of the same species they do not know;—

      —ir       regular feeding, watering and care.It

      It must therefore be ensured that no avoidable pain, suffering or harm is inflicted on these animals.

      The European Convention for the Protection of Animals during International Transport, of December 1968, contains comprehensive rules for the cross-border transport of animals that are binding in international law.

      In order to see if they are fit enough to be transported, both solidungulates and cattle, sheep, goats and pigs should be examined by an official veterinary surgeon of the country of despatch prior to being loaded on to an international transport.

      The official veterinary surgeon should then issue a certificate indicating the nature of the animals, their ability to travel, the mode of transport and the type of vehicle to be used. The animals must have sufficient space and, if circumstances do not require anything to the contrary, be able to lie down. They must be loaded under the conditions approved by the veterinary surgeon. During transport the animals must be supplied with water and suitable food at appropriate intervals. They may, as a rule, not remain without food and water for longer than twenty-four hours.

      The convention also contains other diverse provisions relating to the transport of

      —do       mestic solidungulates and cattle, sheep, goats and pigs;—

      —do       mestic fowls and rabbits;—

      —pe       t dogs and cats;—

      —ot       her mammals and birds, as well as—

      —co       ld-blooded animals.Th

      The parties to this convention now are all the European Union member states, as well as Cyprus, Iceland, Norway, Romania, Russia, Switzerland and Turkey. As the provisions of the convention are not sufficiently detailed for their practical implementation, it was deemed necessary to elaborate them further in respect of the inspections and administrative formalities to be carried out, the conditions of the vehicle, the qualifications of the personnel, the loading densities, the duration of the journey, the interruptions for watering and feeding, veterinary attention, etc.

      Therefore, the Committee of Ministers adopted a series of recommendations, to which are appended very detailed codes of conduct on the transport of each of the following categories of animals:

      —Re       commendation No. R (87) 17 on the transport of horses;—

      —Re       commendation No. R (88) 15 on the transport of pigs;—

      —Re       commendation No. R (90) 1 on the transport of cattle;—

      —Re       commendation No. R (90) 5 on the transport of sheep and goats;—

      —Re       commendation No. R (90) 6 on the transport of poultry.Th

      The European Commission, which took an active part in this work, has given adequate publicity to these texts, in particular to the recommendation on the transport of horses.

      More concrete form has been given to the European convention by the provisions of EC directives, and it has become binding on all member states. Regrettably, these directives had to be repealed when the single market came into effect.

      In November 1991, the Council of Agriculture Ministers passed Directive 91/628/EEC, which constitutes an important framework for the protection of animals during transport.

      Unfortunately, the necessary amendments and more concrete provisions, which should have been implemented before the single market came into force, have still not been adopted.

      This makes it more difficult for national parliaments to pass the relevant legislation, and therefore for action to be punished that violates the principles of animal welfare.

      Not least, at the insistence of a number of member states, the European Commission, submitted, in August 1993, a proposal for a directive amending Directive 91/628/EEC. Although this proposal merely contained the necessary details governing the provision of food and water, adequate space, rest periods and effective machinery for carrying out checks, but not the drastic time-limits to be imposed on transport of animals for slaughter, demanded by the European Parliament and many others, the submission of this proposal was nevertheless an important step in the right direction, since it established the basis for this subject to be dealt with by the various bodies of the EU.

      In December 1993, the European Parliament commented on the proposal and demanded strict rules and more stringent checks on livestock transport. In a resolution the members declared, inter alia, that they were in favour of a maximum journey time of eight hours.

      The European Commission amended its original proposal in June 1994, but did not propose any time-limit on transport of animals for slaughter.

      In Germany both the national parliament (the Bundestag) and the political body representing the Länder (the Bundesrat), which is also involved in enacting legislation, have come out in favour of limiting transport of animals for slaughter to a maximum of eight hours. They initially demanded that these animals be spared any unnecessary stress by only transporting them to the nearest abattoir. However, as this is impracticable the compromise was reached that animals destined for immediate slaughter should be transported for no more than eight hours, in order to establish a maximum norm for the amount of suffering caused to an animal during transport.

      Discussions on improving the transport of animals were a main point of emphasis during the German presidency of the European Council. Those involved succeeded in bringing about an important decision of principle concerning urgently needed rules governing such aspects as the provision of food and water, adequate space, rest periods, better machinery for carrying out checks and better possibilities of punishing offenders.

      On the other hand, we have those member states that are dependent to a very great extent on imports of meat or animals for slaughter. I admit that it is not easy to find a solution to this problem that takes account of the different interests involved.

      Parallel to the European efforts being undertaken, and in view of the difficulties that exist at the level of the EU, the German Government submitted a national decree relating to the protection of animals during transport to the Bundesrat, the body responsible for taking a decision on it. This decree, the purpose of which is to implement the EC's directive of 1991 relating to the protection of animals during transport and to establish detailed provisions governing journey times, feeding and watering, rest periods, the provision of adequate space and the carrying out of checks was adopted on 4 November 1994. The most important rule contained in the decree is the general limit of eight hours imposed on the duration of transport of animals to abattoirs for slaughter. Furthermore, strict intervals were laid down for providing animals with food and water whilst in transit.

      This decree was transmitted for examination and approval to the European Commission. However, the Commission ordered the suspension of its implementation until 30 October 1995.

      The federal government has done its utmost to find a solution in the EU Council of Ministers that takes account of both the desire to protect animals and, to a very large extent, our own ideas. As far as our national decree relating to the protection of animals during transport is concerned, we shall make further action dependent on the course of the deliberations at European level.

      The efforts of the French presidency to find an immediate solution in the EU Council of Ministers that meets the demands of animal welfare and can be accepted by the majority of member states deserve our thanks and appreciation.

      The maximum permissible journey times continue to be the subject of dispute, as do the rest periods necessary and the intervals for feeding and watering the animals.

      However, there is broad agreement that rules should apply equally to animals for slaughter, working animals and animals for breeding purposes. There is also agreement on the other provisions drawn up under the Belgian, Greek and German presidencies:

      —In       future, transport companies may only convey animals on a commercial basis on condition that they have a permit. This permit will be issued by the authorities responsible at a company's place of business in the member state. Transport companies from non-member countries will require a permit from a member state, which may only be issued if the company has given a written undertaking to observe the Community's rules relating to the protection of animals during transport.—

      —Wi       th regard to the rules concerning the allocation of adequate space to be adhered to when transporting horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and domestic fowls by rail, road, air and sea, the standards laid down in the Council of Europe's recommendations concerning livestock transport will be adopted in the directive.—

      —In       future, the transport company may only have transport of vertebrates carried out by persons who have sufficient knowledge to ensure that the animals are properly cared for during the journey. This knowledge can be acquired by undergoing special training and by gaining the relevant professional experience. This rule also applies to transport companies from non-member countries.—

      —In       order to improve the possibilities of carrying out checks on livestock transport involving long journey times, schedules detailing the intended times for feeding and watering the animals and allowing them to rest must be submitted to the authorities responsible before the journey begins. The details of the transport will be communicated to the authority at the place of destination via the computerised reporting system known as ANIMO. The actual feeding and watering of the animals must be confirmed in the schedule.—

      —Wh       en the transport has been carried out, the schedule must be duly completed and submitted to the authority responsible in the country of origin.In

      In addition to the already existing rules governing the supervision of transport, checks are prescribed on leaving the Community.

      The animals may only be transported further if they have been examined by a veterinary surgeon and found to be fit enough to withstand the journey planned.

      The co-operation of the authorities of the Community with one another in punishing violations of the provisions of the directive is being intensified. In the future a transport company that does not comply with the rules relating to the transport may have its licence to transport animals revoked. This will also be possible with respect to violations established in another member state.

      In this connection it is also necessary to calculate refund rates prevailing in the EU for the export of meat and livestock in such a way that they do not result in an additional incentive for the export of live animals.

      At the same time, the number of export refunds must be made dependent on whether the transport meets the standards required to protect the animals concerned, and therefore dependent on the state of these animals on arrival in the country of destination.

      I hope that the Council and the Commission will also be able to find the appropriate solution here that takes account of our responsibility for the animals in our care. The decision of the European Council of June 1995 is a positive step in this direction.

      What conclusions result from this for us as European members of parliament?

      In establishing further rules concerning the transport of animals, it is obviously extremely important for the Council of Europe and the European Union to find a way to meet the requirements of animal welfare without erecting new and disproportionately restrictive trade barriers.

3. Animal husbandry and the slaughtering of animals

      As mentioned in the introduction, there are two other Council of Europe conventions regarding the treatment of farm animals.

      The European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes, because of the important economic consequences its implementation would have for the intensive breeding industry, was conceived in 1976 as a so-called framework convention; it merely laid down the very fundamental principles for the minimum welfare of animals kept for breeding: adequate housing, appropriate provision of food, water and care, appropriate freedom of movement and monitoring of the condition and state of health.

      To elaborate these general principles and adapt them to the various categories of farm animals, the convention created a standing committee of parties, entrusted with the task of drawing up detailed regulations. Parties to the convention are given one year to consider whether such regulations are acceptable to them; if they do not notify any objection the regulations become legally binding in the same way as the provisions in the convention are mandatory. Because the parties have thus the liberty to decide whether or not to accept these regulations, they are referred to in the convention as "recommendations". They must, however, be distinguished from the recommendations adopted by the Committee of Ministers in the field of animal transport (see page 8 above), which are addressed to all member states and can never become legally binding.

      To date, the Standing Committee has adopted "recommendations" on the following categories of farm animals:

      —pi       gs (1986);—

      —eg       g-laying hens (1986);—

      —ca       ttle (1988; including calves 1993);—

      —fu       r animals (1990);—

      —sh       eep (1992);—

      —go       ats (1992).In

      In 1992, a protocol of amendment was adopted which will explicitly extend the scope of the Farm Animal Convention to apply also to the breeding of genetically modified animals.

      As a Party to the convention, the European Community has undertaken to adapt its legislation to these "recommendations", or to introduce new legislation.

      The European Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter, concluded in 1979, was complemented in 1991 by means of a recommendation and a very detailed code of conduct, in exactly the same way as the Animal Transport Convention (see appendix). The principles of this Recommendation No. R (91) 7 on the slaughter of animals were also taken over by the European Community.

      It should be added that ritual slaughtering, as practised by some religious groups, is still a subject of much controversy.

      It can thus be said that at European level sufficient rules and norms exist, or are under way, to enable harmonisation or enactment of national legislation on the welfare of farm animals.

      Your rapporteur is concerned that this legislation also be fully applied and that penalties be introduced for those breaking the rules. In both cases, the scope for improving legislation is considerable. Work in the Standing Committee or the multilateral consultations responsible for these conventions should be guided by this ambition. It is also important to work for a Europe-wide application of established rules by inviting all European states to sign the conventions and apply the regulations.

      The key issue for the implementation of the rules set out in these conventions is training at all levels and of all persons concerned, from veterinary staff to farmers and slaughterhouse workers. Many European countries lack the resources and staff to carry out such training. The parties to the conventions should therefore work out a proposal for a training manual to be used by the signatory states. In all cases there is a need to assist the new democracies of central and eastern Europe for the improvement of their legislation and practices regarding animal welfare.

4. Final remarks

      There is no doubt that these conventions and the machinery for their implementation have contributed, and are still contributing, in an important manner to improve animal husbandry practices in Europe. But there are many difficulties related to the reinforcement of this legislation. New laws alone are not enough. Their application must also follow. Inspections as well as education and information are important tools to achieve the objectives set out in legislation concerning animal welfare, but investments in research and the upgrading technical facilities must also follow.

      Developments in the different areas under consideration take place continuously. Thus, both Sweden and Switzerland have imposed an outright ban on the establishment of new battery cages for poultry, while such existing cages are to be phased out. The cropping of dogs' ears is banned, for instance, in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden.

      The use of medicine in animal feed to avoid the occurrence of pests or death (caused by excessive density, stress and/or heart failure) has been seriously criticised for animal welfare as well as food policy reasons.

      It has also been argued that the creation of smaller local slaughter houses would at the same time avoid the animals suffering during transport and create employment in rural regions.

      In another Assembly report (Doc. 6363, Recommendation 1143) on relations between animal husbandry and the quality of the environment (rapporteur: Mr Van der Linden), the Assembly recommended reducing the number of animals in relation to locally available agricultural land. Such a policy would favour extensive farming methods and the decentralisation of rural employment within Europe. Feeding practices can also cause suffering, as in some cases of goose or duck liver production.

      Your rapporteur believes that the activities of the Council of Europe in this field have been, and continue to be, of considerable interest and importance. The new pan-European dimension of the Council of Europe and the process of enlargement of the European Union make it imperative to maintain and strengthen the work of the Council of Europe on all aspects of animal welfare with a view to seeking a harmonisation of legislation and practices throughout Europe.

      Budgetary restrictions at the Council of Europe have forced the individual governments to bear themselves the costs of participation in multilateral consultations of parties and in meetings of the Standing Committee for Farm Animals. This system hurts in particular the peripheral member states and the states in central and eastern Europe, precisely those states which would benefit the most from these meetings. Moreover, and this applies to all member states, without such regular meetings parties will have great difficulties in carrying out the obligations under the conventions.

      It is obvious that the continuation of work in this field also depends on adequate secretariat resources being made available. This is particularly important for the new member countries in order to satisfy their needs for assistance of all kinds.

      At present, several proposals are under study to find a solution to the problem of financing the Council of Europe's animal welfare activities: sharing the costs between the parties and the Council of Europe; voluntary contributions of the parties; sponsoring by non-governmental organisations, etc.

      It might be an idea to restructure the Council of Europe's work on the harmonisation of animal welfare legislation and its implementation by creating a partial agreement in this field. Although rather cumbersome from a procedural point of view, such a solution might enable the European Union — which is a Party to the Farm Animals Convention and takes an active part in the monitoring of the other conventions — to participate in the financing of these activities.

APPENDIX

Council of Europe conventions in the field of animal welfare

European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes2

      This is a framework convention which was concluded in Strasbourg on 10 March 1976, and was amended on 6 February 1992.3

      A standing committee is responsible for the elaboration of recommendations to the Contracting Parties, containing detailed provisions for the implementation of the principles set out in the convention.4

      The amended convention, in Chapter 1, general principles, Article 1, states that:

      "This convention shall apply to the breeding, keeping, care and housing of animals and in particular to animals in intensive stock-farming systems. For the purposes of this convention "animals" shall mean animals bred or kept for the production of food, wool, skin or fur, or for other farming purposes, including animals produced as a result of genetic modifications or novel genetic combinations. 'Intensive stock farming' systems shall mean husbandry methods in which animals are kept in such numbers or density, or in such conditions, or at such production levels, that their health and welfare depend upon frequent human attention."

      Article 3 and 3 bis continue as follows:

      "Natural or artificial breeding or breeding procedures which cause or are likely to cause suffering or injury to any of the animals involved shall not be practised; no animal shall be kept for farming purposes unless it can be reasonably expected, on the basis of its phenotype or genotype, that it can be kept without detrimental effects on its health or welfare."

      "Animals shall be housed and provided with food, water and care in a manner which — having regard to their species and to their degree of development, adaptation and domestication — is appropriate to their physiological and ethological needs in accordance with established experience and scientific knowledge."

      Articles 4, 5 and 6 continue as follows:

      Article 4

      "1.       The freedom of movement appropriate to an animal, having regard to its species and in accordance with established experience and scientific knowledge, shall not be restricted in such a manner as to cause it unnecessary suffering or injury.

      2.       Where an animal is continuously or regularly tethered or confined, it shall be given the space appropriate to its physiological and ethological needs in accordance with test established experience and scientific knowledge."

      Article 5

      "The lighting, temperature, humidity, air circulation, ventilation, and other environmental conditions such as gas concentration or noise intensity in the place in which an animal is housed, shall — having regard to its species and to its degree of development, adaptation and domestication — conform to its physiological and ethological needs in accordance with established experience and scientific knowledge."

      Article 6

      "No animal shall be provided with food or liquid in a manner, nor shall such food or liquid contain any substance, which may cause unnecessary suffering or injury.

      No other substance with exception of those given for therapeutic or prophylactic purposes shall be administrated to an animal unless it has been demonstrated by scientific studies on animal welfare or established experience that the effect of the substance is not detrimental to the health or welfare of the animal."

      And finally, in Article 7, the following conditions are established:

      "1.       The condition and state of health of animals shall be thoroughly inspected at intervals sufficient to avoid unnecessary suffering and in the case of animals kept in modern intensive stock-farming systems at least once a day.

      2.       When an animal is to be killed on the farm, this shall be done competently and in any case without causing unnecessary pain or distress to the animal or to other animals.

      3.       Technical equipment used in intensive stock-farming systems shall be thoroughly inspected at least once a day, and any defect discovered shall be remedied with the least possible delay. When a defect cannot be remedied forthwith, all temporary measures necessary to safeguard the health and welfare of the animals shall be taken immediately."

European Convention for the Protection of Animals during International Transport5

      This convention was the first of the Council of Europe's conventions on animal protection. It was initiated by a resolution on the regulation of the export of live horses and livestock for slaughter adopted by the Assembly in 1957 (Resolution 134).

      The convention covers "any movement which involves the crossing of a frontier. Frontier traffic shall, however, be excluded".

      Article 1 further sets out that:

      "3.       The competent authorities of the country of dispatch shall decide whether the transport conforms with the provisions of this convention. Nevertheless the country of destination or intermediate countries may dispute whether any particular transport conforms with the provisions of this convention. Such a consignment shall, however be detained only when it is strictly necessary for the welfare of the animals.

      4.       Each Contracting Party shall take the necessary measures to avoid or reduce to a minimum the suffering of animals in cases when strikes or other unforeseeable circumstances in its territory impede the strict application of the provisions of this convention. It will be guided, for this purpose, by the principles set out in this convention."

      Article 2 fixes the application of the convention to cover the transport of:

      "a.       domestic solipeds and domestic animals of the bovine, ovine, caprine and porcine species (Chapter II);

      b.       domestic birds and domestic rabbits (Chapter III);

      c.       domestic dogs and domestic cats (Chapter IV);

      d.       other mammals and birds (Chapter V);

      e.       cold-blooded animals (Chapter VI)."

      The general provisions for domestic solipeds and domestic animals of the bovine, ovine, caprine and porcine species are as follows:

      "Article 3:

      1.       Before animals are loaded for international transport they shall be inspected by an authorised veterinary officer of the exporting country who shall satisfy himself that they are fit for transportation. For the purposes of this convention an authorised veterinary officer is understood to be a veterinary officer nominated by the competent authority.

2.       Loading shall be carried out under arrangements provided by an authorised veterinary officer.

3.       The authorised veterinary officer shall issue a certificate which identifies the animals, states that they are fit for transportation, and, where possible, records the registration number of the means of transport and the type of vehicle used.

4.       In certain cases determined by agreement between the Contracting Parties concerned the provisions of this article need not apply."

      Article 4:

      "Animals likely to give birth during carriage or having given birth during the preceding forty-eight hours shall not be considered fit for transportation."

      Article 5:

      "The authorised veterinary officer of the exporting country, country of transit, or importing country may prescribe a period of rest, at a place determined by him, during which the animals shall receive the necessary care."

      Article 6:

      Paragraphs 1 and 2 establish that:

      "1.       Animals shall be provided with adequate space and, unless special conditions require to the contrary, room to lie down.

      2.       The means of transport and containers shall be constructed so as to protect animals against inclement weather conditions and marked differences in climatic conditions. Ventilation and air space shall be adapted to the conditions of transport and be appropriate for the species of animals carried."

      The remaining paragraphs of this article give further details on transport conditions.

      Article 7 states that:

      "1.       When animals of various species travel in the same truck, vehicle, vessel, or aircraft, they shall be segregated according to species. Furthermore special measures shall be taken to avoid adverse reactions which might result from the transport in the same consignment of species naturally hostile to each other. When animals of different ages are carried in the same truck, vehicle, vessel, or aircraft, adult and young animals shall be kept separate; this restriction shall not, however, apply to females travelling with their young which they suckle. With regard to bovine, soliped and porcine animals, mature uncastrated males shall be separated from females. Adult boars shall also be separated from each other; this shall also apply to stallions.

      2.       In compartments in which animals are transported goods shall not be loaded which could prejudice the welfare of the animals."

      Articles 8 and 9 give further details of loading, unloading and transport equipment.

      Article 10 says:

      "In order to ensure the necessary care of the animals during transport, consignments of livestock shall be accompanied by an attendant, except in the following cases:

      a.       where livestock is consigned in containers which are secured;

      b.       where the transporter undertakes to assume the functions of the attendant;

      c.       where the sender has appointed an agent to care for the animals at appropriate staging points."

      In Article 11 it is established that:

      "1.       The attendant or sender's agent shall look after the animals, feed and water them, and, if necessary, milk them.

      2.       Cows in milk shall be milked at intervals of not more than twelve hours.

      3.       To enable the attendant to provide this care, he shall, if necessary, have available a suitable means of lighting."

      Article 12 establishes that:

      "Animals which become ill or injured during transport shall receive veterinary attention as soon as possible, and if necessary be slaughtered in a way which avoids unnecessary suffering."

      Articles 13, 14 and 15 give rules for the cleanness of compartments and for rapid transport and transit.

      In Article 16, it is specified that:

      "At posts where sanitary control is exercised and animals in significant numbers are regularly transported, facilities shall be provided for resting, feeding and watering."

      Special provisions for transport by rail are give in Articles 17 to 21, for transport by road in Articles 22 to 24, for transport by water in Articles 25 to 34 and for transport by air in Articles 35 to 37.

      Further provisions for domestic birds, domestic rabbits, domestic dogs and domestic cats are given in Articles 38 to 41, and for other mammals and birds as well as cold-blooded animals in Articles 42 to 46.

European Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter6

      This convention was opened for signature in 1979. It applies to the movement, lairaging, restraint, stunning and slaughter of domestic solipeds, ruminants, pigs, rabbits and poultry. It requires that:

      Article 2:

      "3.       Each Contracting Party shall ensure that the design, construction and facilities of slaughterhouses and their operation shall be such as to ensure that the appropriate conditions provided for in this convention are complied with in order to spare animals any avoidable excitement, pain or suffering.

      4.       For slaughtering outside or inside slaughterhouses each Contracting Party shall ensure that the animals are spared any avoidable pain or suffering."

      Regarding the delivery of animals to slaughterhouses and their lairaging until they are slaughtered, the convention in Article 3 states that:

      "1.       Animals shall be unloaded as soon as possible. While waiting in the means of transport they shall be protected from extremes of weather and provided with adequate ventilation.

      2.       The personnel responsible for moving and lairaging such animals shall have the knowledge and skills required and shall comply with the requirements set out in this convention."

      The moving of animals within the precincts of slaughterhouses is dealt with in Articles 4 to 6. It is clearly said that animals shall not be frightened or excited and that suitable equipment must be used. Further, they shall "not be struck on, nor shall pressure be applied to, any particularly sensitive part of the body".

      The rules set out for lairaging says that:

      "1.       Animals shall be protected from unfavourable climatic conditions. Slaughterhouses shall be equipped with a sufficient number of stalls and pens for lairaging of the animals with protection from the effects of adverse weather.

      2.       The floor of areas where animals are unloaded, moved, kept waiting or temporarily based, shall not be slippery. It shall be such that it can be cleaned, disinfected and thoroughly drained of liquids.

      3.       Slaughterhouses shall have covered areas with feeding and drinking troughs and arrangements for tying up animals.

      4.       Animals which must spend the night at the slaughterhouse shall be so housed, and, where appropriate, tied up in such a way that they may lie down."

      The rest of this paragraph gives further detail of lairaging requirements.

      The convention further establishes with regard to care that:

      Article 8:

      "1.       Unless they are conducted as soon as possible to the place of slaughter, animals shall be offered water on arrival in the slaughterhouse.

      2.       With the exception of animals to be slaughtered within twelve hours of their arrival, they shall subsequently be given moderate quantities of food and water at appropriate intervals.

      3.       Where animals are not tied up, feeding receptacles shall be provided which will permit the animals to feed undisturbed."

      Article 9:

      "1.       The condition and state of health of the animals shall be inspected at least every morning and evening.

      2.       Sick, weak or injured animals shall be slaughtered immediately. If this is not possible, they shall be separated in order to be slaughtered as soon as possible."

      Articles 10 and 11 give other provisions, and Articles 12 to 19 give rules with regard to the slaughtering process which also accept ritual slaughter. It may be of relevance in this connection to recall the conditions required for so called "humane killing". This can either be done by rapidly destroying the brain or severing the spinal cord at the back of the head which gives instant unconsciousness followed by death. The same effect is achieved by rendering the animal unconscious by a blow to the head or by the use of a firearm or a humane killing device and then exsanguination before the animal regains consciousness. When death is caused only by exsanguination, as in certain ritual slaughter, this is considered a less humane or inhuman method because the animal suffers for some tens of seconds before the blood pressure has dropped sufficiently to render it unconscious.

The other conventions

      The European Convention for the Protection of Vertebrate Animals used for Experimental and other Scientific Purposes concerns the use of animals in procedures (experiments). Its provisions cover areas such as care and accommodation, conduct of experiments, humane killing, authorisation procedures, control of breeding or supplying and user establishments, education and training and statistical information.

      The European Convention on the Protection of Pet Animals contains provisions to protect pet animals and seeks to establish a basic common standard of attitude and practice towards pet ownership. Provisions are included on breeding, boarding, keeping, etc. The convention also aims at regulating trading and breeding of pet animals, at prohibiting the modification of their natural appearance and at reducing the number of stray animals.

      The Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats has as its main aims:

      "to conserve wild flora and fauna and their natural habitats, especially those species and habitats whose conservation requires the co-operation of several states, and to promote such co-operation.

      2.       Particular emphasis is given to endangered and vulnerable species, including endangered and vulnerable migratory species."

      Article 6 of the convention sets out that "each Contracting Party shall take appropriate and necessary legislative and administrative measures to ensure the special protection of the wild fauna species specified in Appendix II. The following will in particular be prohibited for these species:

      a.       all forms of deliberate capture and keeping and deliberate killing;

      b.       the deliberate damage to or destruction of breeding or resting sites;

      c.       the deliberate disturbance of wild fauna, particularly during the period of breeding, rearing and hibernation, in so far as disturbance would be significant in relation to the objectives of this convention;

      d.       the deliberate destruction or taking of eggs from the wild or keeping these eggs even if empty;

      e.       the possession of and internal trade in these animals, alive or dead, including stuffed animals and any readily recognisable part or derivative thereof, where this would contribute to the effectiveness of the provisions of this article."

      Reporting committee: Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

      Committee for opinion: Committee on Science and Technology, Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities.

      Budgetary implications for the Assembly: none.

      Reference to committee: Doc. 6764 and Reference No. 1880 of 5 June 1993.

      Draft recommendation adopted unanimously by the committee on 28 September 1995.

      Members of the committee: MM. Scheer (Chairman) (Alternate: Behrendt), Van der Linden, Szakál (Alternate: Rott) (Vice-Chairmen), Mrs Andnor, Mrs Anttila (Alternate: Mr Korkeaoja), MM. Bernardini, Bianchi, Caballero, Černý (Alternate: Hurta), Couveinhes, Crowley, (Alternate: Brennan), Figel, Fronzuti, Ghimpu, Haraldsson, Hoejland, Holte, Hornung, Sir Ralph Howell (Alternate: Mr Alexander), MM. Iuliano, Jeambrun, Kairys, Kiratlioǧlu, Kotsonis, Lanner, Lord Mackie of Benshie (Alternate: Dame Peggy Fenner), Mrs Melandri, MM. Metelko (Alternate: Mozetič), Michels, Mrs Moser (Alternate: Mr Minkov), MM. Rippinger, Rodrigues, Roger, Seiler, Sinka, Smolarek (Alternate: Szymański), Telgmaa, J. Thompson, Weyts.

      N.B.       The names of those members present at the meeting are printed in italics.

      Secretary to the committee: Mr Lervik.


1 1By the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

2 1Contracting Parties: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, European Community, Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

3 2Signatory states: Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland (the protocol has to be ratified by all the States Party to the convention before its entry into force, so far eight states have done so).

4 3Recommendations concerning pigs, egg laying hens, cattle, fur animals, sheep and goats have been adopted and others concerning different poultry species are under preparation.

5 1Contracting Parties: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, Russia.

6 1Signatory states: Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The states printed in italics have not yet ratified.