European Manifesto launched in Malta to end long-distance live animal transport
International and Maltese speakers together with Maltese citizens convened in Valletta at the end of September for the conference ‘Animal Suffering in Long-Distance Transport: Ask John Dalli’ to urge EU Commissioner John Dalli of Malta to back down over his refusal to protect the welfare of animals in Europe.
Millions of live animals are transported over long distances on European roads, sometimes for several days, only to be killed on arrival. This terrible suffering can be avoided by killing animals humanely close to home and then transporting their meat and carcasses.
The organisers were pleased to learn that Mr Dalli had accepted their invitation to speak at the conference, and his arrival was greeted with applause. However, his departure was accompanied by silence after he had confirmed that he had no intention of proposing a review of the rules on transport, despite the fact that some of the present rules have not been enforced for more than 15 years and some are impossible to enforce.
On 15 March 2012, the European Parliament adopted Written Declaration 49/2011 – signed by 395 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) – calling on the EU institutions to establish a maximum 8-hour limit on the journeys of animals transported for the purpose of slaughter.
On 7 June, representatives of more than 100 European animal welfare NGOs and MEPs across the political spectrum handed in 1,103,248 signatures to Mr Dalli, who is the EU Commissioner responsible for animal welfare in the European Union.
In front of the cameras, Mr Dalli announced that “by 2014 the Commission will publish a legislative proposal”, which would include live transport and transport times.” On the same occasion, he admitted that “some species of animals require a much lower figure than 8 hours”.
A few days later, Mr Dalli denied that he had ever promised a review of the rules on transport and had his staff affirm that enforcement of the present rules was enough. Some of those rules have been in place for more than 20 years and have never been enforced.
There were embarrassing moments at the conference when Mr Dalli restated that he had never made such affirmations. The video clip was then shown again, but despite this incontrovertible evidence Mr Dalli still denied saying such things.
Danish MEP Dan Jørgensen then cited a letter in which ten MEPs complained to Mr Dalli because he had tried to deny the even more explicit affirmations he had made in front of them before the petition hand-in.
The 8hours campaign was launched jointly by Animals’ Angels – an international organisation which has documented hundreds of cases of severe suffering endured by animals transported on long-distance journeys – together with Danish MEP Dan Jørgensen. The aim of the initiative is to limit the transport of animals for the purpose of slaughter to no longer than 8 hours.
“Bold statements with no action are what we continue to receive from Commissioner Dalli”, said Christa Blanke, Founder and Director of Animals’ Angels. “Animals suffer while Mr Dalli plays his political games.”
“395 Members of the European Parliament and over one million EU citizens are asking Mr Dalli simply to do his duty, and in fact what he proposed on 7 June: produce a proposal for the change of the existing rules on live animal transport which contains limitations to transport time”, said Danish MEP Dan Jørgensen. “Mr Dalli can try to depict himself in the media as very active on this issue, but the reality is that unlike his predecessors he is refusing to take real action. This is not only prolonging the suffering of millions of animals but widening the gap between the EU institutions and EU citizens. We invite individuals and organisations to join the Manifesto of Malta, which aims to bring together all those genuinely concerned about animal welfare and democracy in Europe.”
A draft of the Manifesto of Malta was submitted to the conference participants for discussion and then launched at the end of the day. It will be circulated widely in the coming weeks, gathering the support of citizens, MEPs and organisations that care about animal welfare and the respect of citizens’ rights in Europe. It makes an appeal to the European institutions, asking that this gap between them and EU citizens be filled by real action against long-distance live animal transport. It asks Commissioner John Dalli to honour his role as EU Commissioner in charge of animal welfare and end his opposition to real progress on the welfare of transported animals. And it asks the Maltese political parties and electors to condemn Mr Dalli’s refusal to act against long-distance live animal transport, and to take these events into consideration when they vote in future elections.
During his end of conference speech, Max Farrugia of International Animal Rescue Malta, co-promoter of the campaign in Malta, invited Mr Dalli to sit at the table with him and try to solve the problem.
In an intervention he stated that whilst Mr Dalli is travelling long distances from Malta to Brussels and other destinations in a first class comfortable seat on an airline, animals are being transported across Europe in lorries which lack space, ventilation, food, drink and indeed any basic comfort. Both animals and human beings are sensitive creatures and both must be treated as such.