The Deputy is referring to a Resolution of the European Parliament on the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005, of 14th February 2019. This Resolution is advisory in nature. Paragraph 53 of this Resolution calls on the European Commission to develop a strategy to ensure a shift from live animal transport to a mainly meat-and-carcass and germinal products trade. The wider context of the Resolution is a concern for the welfare of animals being transported, a concern I fully share. I have stressed the importance of ensuring the highest welfare standards of animals in transit in my meetings with live exporters.
My Department maintains robust oversight of the welfare of animals exported from Ireland, through a comprehensive legislative framework. Irish legislation on sea transport is recognised by the European Commission as being among the most effective and stringent legislation in force on transport by sea. With regard to road transport, the Department does not approve journey logs from exporters for any live export where the destination country has an orange or red weather alert in place, or where a significant part of the transit route goes through an orange or red alert area. This is in addition to the annual ban on road transport of livestock to Greece, North Africa and Turkey during the months of July and August.
Furthermore, my Department continues to proactively contribute to efforts to improve animal welfare standards during transport. My Department is currently providing multiannual funding of €75,000 per year over four years to the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) towards the implementation of the second Action Plan of the OIE Platform on Animal Welfare for Europe, in relation to slaughter and transport, within Europe and between Europe and the Middle East and North Africa.
The European Parliament Resolution notes that in some Member States the live transport of animals, for further production or slaughter, is important to ensure competition in the marketplace. This is certainly the case in Ireland. Live exports are a critical part of Ireland’s livestock industry. They play a significant role in stimulating price competition and providing an alternative market outlet for farmers. The Department facilitates this trade, recognising its importance to the agri-sector, while ensuring the highest welfare standards. In 2018, the combined total value of live animal exports to the Irish economy was €161 million (€110 million for cattle; €49 million for pigs; €2 million for sheep) according to Bord Bia.