1.The European Community’s measures relating to equidae and the transport of animals was examined for the Joint Committee by the Sub-Committee on Agricultural and Fishery Matters under the Chairmanship of Deputy John Ellis. The measures in question are:-
Council Directive on animal health conditions governing the movement and import from third countries of equidae (COM 90/426/EEC);
Council Directive on the zootechnical aid genealogical conditions governing intra-Community trade in equidae (COM 90/427/EEC);
Council Directive on trade in equidae intended for competitions and laying down the conditions for participation therein (COM 90/428/EEC) and
Proposal for a Council Regulation (EEC) on the protection of animals during transport (COM (89) 322 final.
The Joint Committee is indebted to Deputy Ellis and his colleagues for the substantial volume of work which they performed so diligently on its behalf.
2.In carrying out its work the Sub-Committee received considerable assistance in written and oral form from the Department of Agriculture and Food, the National Horse Committee of the Irish Farmers Association, the Turf Club, the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Teagasc, the Horse Breeding Advisory Committee, Weatherbys Ireland and the British Horse Society.
3.In particular, the Joint Committee would like to thank Mr. Frank O’Donnell, Mr. James Beecher, Mr. Patrick O’Connor, Ms. Maura Waters, Mr. Albert Costello and Mr. Jim Caddle of the Department of Agriculture and Food, all of whom attended sessions of the Sub-Committee, submitted written material and made themselves available to the Sub-Committee’s consultant.
4.The Joint Committee would also like to thank Mr. James Kennedy and Mr. Peter Lynch, Chairman and Executive Secretary respectively of the National Horse Committee of the Irish Farmers Association, Mr. Sean Berry, Manager of the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Messrs Jim Flanagan, Michael Stone and Fintan Flannery of the Horse Breeding Advisory Committee who gave oral evidence to the Sub-Committee or to the consultant. The Joint Committee would particularly like to thank Mr. Eric Ellis and Mr. Robert McCarthy of the British Horse Society who travelled to Dublin to give evidence to the Sub-Committee.
The Joint Committee gratefully acknowledges also the assistance given to it and the Sub-Committee by Mr. Jim Dorgan in preparing this Report.
5.The removal of barriers to the free movement of goods and services, is enshrined in Article 3 of the Treaty of Rome and as such constitutes one of the four ‘essential freedoms’ of the European Community. The others being free movement of services, capital and people. Obstacles to the movement of goods created by tariffs and quotas having been eliminated amongst most member states many years ago the Community is now engaged in the removal of indirect barriers to the four freedoms. The Community’s programme for accelerating work in this area was laid out in its White Paper ‘Completing the Internal Market’ published in June 1985 and incorporated in the Single European Act of 1987.
6.The White Paper identified three categories of indirect obstacles; physical barriers created by checks at Member States’ borders, technical barriers caused by different standards, certification and testing procedures and fiscal barriers resulting from different rates of excise and VAT. Of the 300 specific measures proposed in the White Paper to deal with these obstacles about 90 were aimed at the removal of physical barriers. According to the Commission’s latest progress report on the implementation of the White Paper, published in March 1990, 37 of these had been adopted by then leaving about 50 to be finalised.
7.The instruments considered in this report are amongst this group. Three of the instruments (all Directives) relate to equidae (i.e. horses, ponies, donkeys, zebras) while the fourth (a Regulation) relates to transport of animals. Of those relating to equidae, the most important is the Directive harmonising the criteria and procedures for control of the health of equidae moving into and between Member States. The other two concern eliminating obstacles to trade created by rules in Member States governing the breeding and pedigree of equidae, and rules governing entry of equidae to competitions.
8.The transport Regulation concerns harmonisation of procedures to be followed by the Member States to ensure the welfare of animals during transport. This Regulation concerns all modes of transport and includes transport within the Member States as well as between Member States and between Member States and third countries.
9.As far as animal health and transport are concerned, the Community has already adopted a number of measures. Directives dealing with swine fever, foot and mouth disease, bovine TB, amongst others have been on the statute books since the 1960s. Many of these were amended by proposals contained in the White Paper. Likewise, there are two Directives already extant dealing with the welfare of animals during transport. The essential characteristic of all of these proposals is that they seek to harmonise Member States procedures, to strengthen them and to shift their locus away from Member States frontiers (except for animals from or to third countries) to points internal to the Member States.
10.As far as Ireland is concerned, the importance of these instruments has to be seen against the country’s background as an island and as an economy heavily dependent on agriculture in which the horse industry is particularly important. The relative importance of agriculture to Ireland is best gauged by statistics on its share of national output in relation to that of other Member States. In 1987, agriculture accounted for 10.3% of Irish GNP while the average for the Community as a whole was only 3.2%.
11.Within Irish agriculture, output of the horse industry was about £90 million or 3% of the total gross agricultural output. In economic terms this is about as important as pigs (when allowance is made for inputs) or sheep and more important than poultry, vegetables, sugar or any other crop except barley. It is estimated that about 4,000 persons are employed in horse breeding. Statistics on the relative importance of the horse industry in other Member States are not readily available. However, Community trade statistics show that Irish exports are significant on the Community plane. In 1989, for example, Irish exports of horses were valued at ECU88 million or about 20% of the Community total. Likewise Irish imports of horses were valued at ECU84 million or 14% of total Community imports. (Most of these imports were high value animals imported for breeding). These statistics place Ireland second behind the UK in the horse trade in absolute terms, but considering that Ireland’s GNP is about 0.7% of total Community GNP, it is clear that the horse industry is relatively more important to this country than to any other Member State.
12.With respect to the Regulation on the transport of animals, the relevant consideration is exports of all live animals, cattle sheep and pigs as well as horses. Ireland’s trade in live cattle has declined steadily in recent decades and since 1980, for example, the value of live cattle exports has declined by one third. All but a small proportion of our cattle exports now are slaughtered and leave the country in chilled or frozen form. However, for selected markets, such as in the middle east, the live trade remains important. In fact in 1989, the value of live cattle exports amounted to ECU143 million which represented about 7% of total Community exports. However, ECU28 million of these was to third countries and this accounted for 30% of all Community exports of live cattle to third countries. Again, these figures must be viewed in relation to our share of Community GNP to gauge the relative importance of this trade to Ireland as compared with other Member States.
13.The final consideration is that Ireland is an island and as such one of only two in the European Community. Our island geography puts us and Britain in a unique position in that our animal health status is bound to be higher than in the case of the continental countries. Also, and unlike the UK, Ireland is a small country. Thus, for example, the removal of checks from frontiers to internal points may make less sense than in the case of continental countries.
C. MAIN PROVISIONS OF THE DIRECTIVES AND REGULATION
Council Directive on Animal Health Conditions Governing the movement and import from third countries of equidae (COM 90/426/EEC)
14.At present imports of equidae into Ireland must be licensed. Licenses are granted if equidae pass certain tests and are certified as healthy in the country of origin. The tests required by the Irish authorities depend on the country of origin. Imports from some countries are banned altogether. On the other hand, imports from Britain and Northern Ireland are accepted freely because of the history of close harmonisation of animal health controls in the two countries. Exports, other than to the US, UK and Canada, must also be licensed by the Irish authorities and licenses are not granted if the horses are being exported for slaughter.
15.This Directive replaces disparate national rules among the Member States with uniform procedures for preventing the occurrence of disease and the control of it should it arise. It also authorises the third countries from which equidae can be imported and the rules under which they can be imported. (At the moment the list of third countries has not been finalised).
16.Article 4 of the Directive requires that before horses are exported to another Member State, they must be inspected and certified as healthy and coming from a holding free from a notifiable disease. The significance of this provision is that the system of pre-export testing which is now required by Ireland and the UK, will generally not be allowable in the future. The notifiable diseases listed in the Directive are all presently notifiable in Ireland, but two diseases, Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) and Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA), which are notifiable in Ireland, are not on the list. However, the Directive provides for endorsement by the Commission of the voluntary code of practice which has been adopted in Ireland to combat (successfully) these diseases. In other words, it would be possible for participants in the Irish industry to continue to demand pre-export testing for CEM and EVA.
17.The Directive provides that exports from a Member State with African Horse Sickness (AHS) are permitted provided they come from a region which is free from AHS. Exports from regions with AHS are permitted provided the horses pass certain tests. This conflicts with existing Irish legislation which bans imports from countries with AHS.
18.The Directive requires (Article 4, paragraph 4) that equidae must be identified. As far as registered horses are concerned, the proposal under the Zootechnical and Genealogical Regulation (see paragraph 24 below) will cover this requirement. No agreement has yet been reached on the identification of unregistered horses and the matter will be resolved by the Standing Veterinary Committee. The identification document will include provision for a certificate of the animal’s health status.
19.Various technical decisions required to give effect to this Directive will also be determined later by the Standing Veterinary Committee. The Directive has been adopted by the Council and Member States are required to bring in implementing legislation by January 1st 1992. In Ireland’s case this means amendment or replacement of the Diseases of Animals Act 1966.
Council Directive on the Zootechnical and Genealogical Conditions Governing intra-Community Trade in Equidae (90/427/EEC)
20.The object of this Directive as stated in Article 3 is to prevent the prohibition or restriction of intra-Community trade in equidae, whether registered or not, or their semen, ova or embryos on the grounds that their breed or pedigree or the certification of their breed and pedigree is incompatible with policy and procedures of official or sporting organisations in the importing country.
21.The Directive is an enabling one: according to Article 4, to become effective the Commission, through the Standing Committee on Zootechnics, must establish the criteria for recognising stud book organisations, for entry and registration in studbooks, for recognition of registered equidae, for drawing up certificates of origin and so on. At the same time it is provided that the keepers of the studbook of a breed in the country of origin of that breed will set down the principles to be complied with by other studbooks of that breed.
22.A problem with this Directive in its original form was posed for the thoroughbred industry by its proposal to eliminate restrictions on trade in artificial means of reproduction. The thoroughbred industry prohibits the use of artificial reproduction and the lifting of this ban could have led to the exclusion of the Member States, including Ireland, from the international thoroughbred industry. This aspect of the Directive was corrected and as it now stands the prohibition on artificial reproduction in thoroughbred breeding will be permitted.
23.Two other articles are significant. Article 6 requires that horses moving from one country to another must keep their original names and the name of the country of origin must also be recorded. Article 8 provides that registered horses moving between Member States must be accompanied by an identification document which must comply with rules laid down by the Commission. The Standing Committee on Zootechnics will advise the Commission on detailed particulars of the format of this document. These will be harmonised with the requirements of the Directive on the health of equidae referred to in paragraph 18 above.
24.This Directive has been adopted by the Council and Member States are required to bring in implementing legislation by January 1st 1991. Amending legislation will be required in Ireland to implement the Directive.
Council Directive on Trade in Equidae intended for Competitions and Laying Down the Conditions for Participation therein (90/428/EEC)
25.The object of this Directive is to prevent different competition rules being applied to horses from Member States other than the one in which the competition is being held and thus to inhibit trade in horses. Article 3 elucidates a general prohibition while Article 4 provides for exceptions. These exceptions include local competitions, local competitions intended to select horses (e.g. for the national team), historic and traditional events. This Article also permits organisers to offer lower prizes to visiting horses from other Member States provided the differential in favour of the home horse is not more than 30%, declining to 20% in 1993.
26.When this Directive is implemented it will not be possible, for example, to exclude from a competition for a particular breed of horses held in one Member State, horses from other Member States simply because they are not indigenous. So long as they comply with the criteria for the relevant breed, horses of any nation will be eligible to compete.
27.This Directive has been adopted by the Council and Member States must pass all implementing legislation by July 1st 1991. It is not considered that any implementing legislation is required for Ireland.
Proposal for a Council Regulation on the Protection of Animals During Transport (COM (89) 322 final)
28.The object of this Regulation is to ensure that common standards and procedures are adopted by Member States to guarantee the welfare of animals during transport. It replaces two Directives which apply the provisions of the European Convention for the Protection of Animals during International Transport to which Ireland acceded in 1975. This Regulation provides for more detailed protection of animals in transport. It also governs trade within as well as between Member States.
29.The basic principle is enunciated in Article 4 which states that all animals shall be fit for travel before they are embarked and that suitable provisions have been made for their welfare en route. Animals being transported for slaughter or fattening must undergo official veterinary inspection 24 hours before departure and the loading must be officially supervised. The means of transport must also be inspected at this time. Widespread checks by veterinary authorities at abattoirs, marts, assembly and transfer points are envisaged. However checks at frontiers will only take place in the case of animals destined for or coming from third countries. Transporters will be responsible for providing documentation to enable veterinary authorities to determine ownership, origin, departure points, destinations, time of departure etc of animals.
30.An amendment to this Regulation has been proposed in the European Parliament seeking to prohibit the transport of animals over long distances requiring a journey time of more than eight hours. The point is argued that with modern technology it is feasible to slaughter animals at home and transport the carcasses rather than to inflict long journeys on live animals.
31.This draft Regulation was first circulated in August 1989. Under the Irish Presidency it was discussed in general terms but no substantive progress was made. It is not listed for consideration by the Italian presidency. In its present form it will not be necessary to amend Irish legislation.
D. VIEWS OF THE JOINT COMMITTEE
Directive on Health of Equidae
32.As noted in the Background Section, the horse industry is relatively more important in Ireland than in other Member States of the Community. This is particularly true of the thoroughbred industry where Ireland is one of the largest producers in absolute terms in the world. Thus, in general terms the Joint Committee welcomes any Community legislation which removes barriers and obstacles of any kind to the export of Irish horses be they going abroad permanently for breeding or temporarily for races or competitions. By the same token, anything which improves and strengthens Community controls on the health of horses in the Community is strongly to be welcomed.
33.However, a second point emphasised in the Background is that as an island Member State, and one of only two, the country’s animal health status is higher than that of the continental Member States. The Joint Committee is concerned that other Member States of the Community do not have the same incentive, or the same means, of preserving the health of horses as we do in Ireland. Therefore, in the inevitable bargaining leading up to the adoption of this Directive, the Irish authorities may have been obliged to accept a common position representing a compromise between countries such as Ireland and the UK, with a strong interest and high standards in the industry, and others with less interest and lower standards.
34.Specifically, the Joint Committee is concerned that while the Directive might lead to a strengthening of controls by some Member States on imports from third countries, it might also lead to less control in Ireland on imports from other Member States. For example, Irish legislation prohibits the import of horses from countries with African Horse Sickness (AHS). Amongst Member States that includes Spain and Portugal. Under this Directive imports from these countries cannot be banned. Horses can be imported from these countries if it is certified that they do not come from regions where AHS is endemic. Horses can also be imported from regions where AHS is endemic if they are tested and found negative.
35.More generally, the Directive involves a shift in control away from pre-export testing for diseases, which is the method of control used on imports into Ireland, towards inspection and certification. It seems to the Joint Committee that this puts a high degree of reliance on the competence and diligence of owners and veterinarians in the other Member States. By comparison pre-export testing appears to be more objective. Even if high standards are always observed in other Member States, veterinarians in many of them will not have the same experience of dealing with horses as Irish veterinarians. The Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association made strong representations to the Joint Committee along these lines.
36.Of course, it could be argued that if Ireland’s trade in horses was only with Community Member States, a reduction in our health standards might not matter very much since all Member States would then be “in the same boat” and our relative position would be unchanged. Setting aside the fact that the loss of a higher health status would pose costs and risks to the Irish industry which it does not have at the moment, it is the case that Ireland can never be in the same boat as the others because of the greater relative importance of the industry. A major concern for Ireland must be the perception of third country markets (e.g. the US) of our health status as a result of this Directive.
37.In this respect the fact that CEM and EVA will no longer be notifiable diseases is a cause for concern. It is argued that the code of practice which the Irish industry has drawn up to combat CEM, and which has proved successful, can be continued. But that is subject to Commission approval. Evidently, other Member States do not share Ireland’s assessment of the threat posed by CEM and EVA because they did not accept the Irish case that CEM and EVA be notifiable diseases, and it is not unreasonable to expect that the Commission might in due course come around to the same opinion. In that case the code of practice might be under threat. However, the fact that the code of practice is recognised by the Directive, at least for the time being, may be a positive help in marketing our horses in third countries.
38.The Joint Committee also notes that the “alliance” between Ireland, the UK and France on disease control in relation to horses can be useful in pressurising the Community as a whole to accept high standards. This “alliance” is known as the Tripartite Group and is founded on a common interest which the three countries share in the thoroughbred industry. The Tripartite Group may be helpful in insisting on high standards when it comes to drawing up detailed rules for the implementation of this Directive. Recently Germany has been admitted to this Group and Italy is also expected to join in the near future. This means, inter alia, that the Code of Practice will be observed in at least five Member States, which is encouraging from Ireland’s viewpoint.
39.The other aspect of the Directive which is of concern to members is the fact that Irish legislation, which effectively bans the export of horses for slaughter, may no longer be sustainable in its present form. This issue is discussed further below in Proposed Regulation on Protection of Animals in Transport, paragraph 47.
Directive on Zootechnical and Genealogical Conditions
40.In general terms this Directive is welcome in that by harmonising procedures for registration amongst the Member States it will remove indirect obstacles to the movement of horses. However, a consequence is that it will probably increase the “marketability” of registered as opposed to non-registered horses. This will, of course, make no difference to the thoroughbred industry which has a long established and well organised studbook. But Ireland is at a disadvantage in the non-thoroughbred segment of the industry because we have a lower percentage of registered non-thoroughbred horses than many other countries.
41.Since the demise of Bord na gCapall, the register of non-thoroughbred horses, the Irish Horse Register, has been under the direct control of the Department of Agriculture. The Joint Committee is concerned that the procedures adopted by the Department for the registration of horses have not proved completely acceptable to the industry. It is noted however, that the Horse Breeding Advisory Committee set up by the Minister for Agriculture to consider, inter alia, the future management of the Irish Horse Register, has recently submitted three reports. These reports have not been published, but it is understood from press comment that the Committee proposes to divide the register into different levels so that while all horses documented, those meeting high zootechnical and genealogical specifications will be made separately registered in what is to become a new Irish Studbook. The Joint Committee is hopeful that this and other recommendations of the Horse Breeding Advisory Committee will result in a register which all owners will be inclined to use but which will still identify high quality breeding stock.
42.However, the removal of zootechnical and genealogical obstacles of trade may make it easier to import “warm blooded” stallions on their semen from the continent and this may threaten the viability of our non-thoroughbred industry because of the small pool of brood mares, especially Irish Draughts. The Irish Draught Horse is one of only two indigenous Irish breeds of equidae (the other being the Connemara Pony). The number of foals born to registered sires of this breed has declined over the years and there is concern for its future. It could be argued that what is now known as the Irish Sport Horse or non-thoroughbred will survive if the performance of their progeny match that of other breeds and that if it does not then their disappearance will be inevitable and indeed desirable. However, the Committee believes that a decline in the numbers of Irish Draught Horse and of Irish Sport Horse on non-thoroughbred would be damaging to the horse industry in Ireland in general.
This is because few overseas buyers would come to Ireland to buy offspring of “warm bloods” which can just as easily be obtained on the Continent. But the Committee believes that measures can be taken to reverse the decline in the Irish Draught Horse. For example, the £400 grant for foals of this breed, which was recently introduced by the Government, appears to be having a positive effect. Other measures of support outlined in the Government’s Sectoral Programme for the Non-Thoroughbred Horse Industry should also be helpful.
Directive on Trade in Equidae Participating in Competitions
43.The Joint Committee welcomes this Directive. Irish racing and show jumping organisations have an open policy towards horses registered in other countries. Thus, the suppression of discrimination against foreign horses entering Irish competitions will have little effect in Ireland. However, other countries are more restrictive and tend to limit entry to competitions, as well as prize money, to their own “nationals”. Accordingly, this Directive seems likely to facilitate the movement of Irish horses while not conferring any additional advantage on foreign horses competing in Ireland.
Proposed Regulation on the Protection of Animals during Transport
44.Efforts to improve the welfare of animals in transit are to be welcomed. Therefore in general terms the Joint Committee supports this proposed Regulation which involves a tightening up as well as the harmonisation of national measures in the area of animal welfare. However, the Joint Committee is concerned that the strengthening of procedures and the shift of emphasis from checks at ports to checks at points in the interior could entail additional administrative and compliance costs on both the public and private sectors.
45.As far as the public sector is concerned, although the existing procedures operated by the Department of Agriculture for checking at ports will be reduced, it will still be necessary to have some cover at ports to cater for exports to third countries. At the same time, the regulation requires checks at loading points, abattoirs, marts, and other internal locations where there is at present no specific requirement to supervise animal welfare. The Joint Committee believes that this will surely require extra resources.
46.The requirement to give 24 hour notice before loading, and the requirement that loading should be supervised seem likely to impose costs and delays on farmers and transporters. It may be that transport of live animals will eventually require fully specialised vehicles and personnel. Transporters will also have to face extra administrative costs in that the proposed Regulation requires that they must keep documents showing the origin, ownership, mode of transport and destination of their loads.
47.Reference was made above (paragraph 39) to the possibility that the Directive on the health of horses might prevent the Irish Government from enforcing its effective ban on the export of horses for slaughter. This Regulation may also tend to the same result. This is because both instruments prevent Member States from banning the export of horses except on grounds that they are unhealthy or unfit to travel. The Irish ban on the export of horses for slaughter is based on the presumption that the welfare of horses intended for slaughter is likely to be neglected by the transporters or the importers. This aspect of the Regulation has prompted an amendment by an English MEP to the effect that animals should not be transported on journeys longer than eight hours.
48.The Joint Committee is concerned that this country should not be and should not be seen to be lacking with respect to the welfare of horses. Other things being equal, the Joint Committee would like to retain the existing national ban on the export of live horses for slaughter. On the other hand, a ban on the transport of live animals on journeys of over eight hours would prevent the export of Irish live animals to anywhere, since even export to the UK would require a journey longer than that. Of course, the trade which would be most at risk would be Ireland’s exports of live animals to the Middle East which involves a journey of many days. Despite the decline in the importance of Ireland’s export of live animals over the years, the trade remains important. As noted in paragraph 12, Irish exports of cattle in 1989 were valued at ECU1 43 million.
E. RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE JOINT COMMITTEE
Directive on Health of Equidae
49.While this Directive has been adopted, a great many details concerning its implementation remain to be determined by the Standing Veterinary Committee. These include the list of Third Countries from which imports will be permitted. The Joint Committee urges that the Government should use its Veterinary Committee to ensure that conditions for import from Third Countries to the Community should be at least as stringent as they are at present for imports from such countries to Ireland.
50.Likewise, with regard to the regionalisation procedure, whereby imports are permitted from countries in which there is AHS, provided the horses do not come from those regions of the country where AHS is present, the Joint Committee urges that the definition of “region” should usually be as large as possible. It is understood that in the case of Spain it is proposed that AHS should be deemed to be present in about half of the country. This appears to be a reasonable delineation to the Joint Committee.
51.The Joint Committee also urges the Irish authorities to be as vigilant as possible in ensuring that the veterinary standards and procedures in other Member States are as high as those prevailing in this country. Any evidence that this is not the case should result in appropriate representations by the Irish Government to the Commission.
52.The suggestions made by the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association, that imports from third countries should only take place at a limited number of designated ports in the Community, and that specialised veterinarians should be present at these ports, appears worthy of consideration in this regard.
Directive on Zootechnical and Genealogical Conditions
53.The entry of continental “warm bloods” onto the Irish Horse Register cannot be prohibited. However, the Joint Committee recommends
athat the Government seriously consider the proposals contained in the report of the Horse Breeding Advisory Committee which was recently submitted concerning stallion approvals.
bin particular, it recommends that criteria for the registration of non thoroughbreds in the Irish Horse Register ought to be such that it will be possible to maintain the separate identity of the Irish Bred Irish Horse from Irish Bred “warm bloods”.
cin general every effort should be made to encourage owners to register their horses on the Irish Horse Register.
Directive on Trade in Equidae Participating in Competitions
54.The Joint Committee would prefer if the discrimination in prize money against foreign horses, which is practised in some Member States, could be suppressed altogether rather than simply limited as in this Directive. The Irish Government, in conjunction with the relevant Irish organisations ought to compile a list of competitions where discrimination is practised with a view to mounting a case for its abolition in due course. Even as permitted under this Directive, this form of discrimination is very much at odds with the spirit of the 1992 programme.
Proposed Regulation on the Protection of Animals during Transport
55.Having regard to the points made in the preceding paragraphs about the character and importance of Ireland’s live trade, the Joint Committee could not endorse the proposed amendment by the European Parliament limiting the maximum journey times of animals to only eight hours. The Joint Committee is satisfied that the protections contained in the Regulation are sufficient to ensure the welfare of animals being transported over long distances, including horses intended for slaughter. It should be remembered that great improvements have taken place in legislation in all Member States of the Community since the 1960s when the Irish ban on the export of horses for slaughter was first introduced. There has also been a very marked decline in the number of horses in the country from which cullings for slaughter could take place.
56.However, it is recognised that standards are not always observed and that horses for slaughter may be particularly at risk. The Joint Committee urges that the Government should adhere to the existing prohibition until such time as it is successfully challenged. In the meantime, the Government should consider increasing penalties including, as is provided in Article 20 of the Regulation banning individuals or organisations from involvement in the transport of live animals for specific periods of time.
57.The detailed standards to be observed in the transport of each type of animal will be determined by the Standing Veterinary Committee. The Joint Committee has three specific recommendations to make about the proposed regulation:
aThere should be a requirement that where ships, vehicles and aircraft carrying horses, do not include automatic watering equipment, horses should be watered every eight hours.
bLorries transporting horses should have a minimum crew of two where journeys exceed about three hours and where the number of horses is more than two.
This is particularly important in the case of the horses for slaughter where consignments are likely to comprise relatively large numbers of horses and where the emphasis is likely to be on minimising costs rather than on animal welfare.
cWhile it is the intention of the proposed Regulation that controls at frontiers as such should be abolished, this should not be incompatible with random checks at frontiers and the Joint Committee recommends that the Irish authorities preserve our disease free status as an island nation.
dThat a veterinary surgeon, expert in equine matters be appointed to the EC Standing Veterinary Committee.
58.Finally, the Joint Committee notes that this proposed Regulation is still at an early stage in its progress towards the statute book. The Joint Committee may return to a further consideration of this Regulation when it is close to finalisation. In the meantime, the Joint Committee urges the Government to bring pressure to bear at Community level to expedite the finalisation of this Regulation. The need for action arises from the need to have adequate safeguards for animal welfare in place when the other Directives, which are aimed at encouraging increased movements of live animals between Member States, come into operation.
59.Given the close identity of interests and attitudes of the Irish and UK horse industries, the Committee recommends that the Irish and British authorities should coordinate their approach to the negotiations on the detailed implementation of all of these directives and the transport regulation insofar as it affects horses.
Debates in the Houses
60.In view of the importance of the issues raised in this Report the Joint Committee requests that the Report be debated in each House at an early date.
PETER BARRY TD
CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT COMMITTEE
(5 December, 1990.)