The European Commission has welcomed the European Council's political agreement on a regulation on animal transport, which is aimed at increasing animal welfare by improving the enforcement of animal transport rules in Europe.

The regulation increases accountability by identifying clearly who is responsible for what throughout the animal transport process and introduces new, more efficient enforcement tools such as checks via a satellite navigation system from 2007.

It also introduces much stricter rules for journeys of more than eight hours, including substantial upgrading in vehicles standards. The regulation recognises that most of the stress on the animals occurs around loading and unloading and therefore introduces rules to deal with situations before and after transport, for example at slaughterhouses or at harbours. Currently about 10% of animal transport in Europe consists of long distance transport.

"These new animal transport rules will significantly improve animal welfare. My ambition would have been to reduce travelling times and stocking densities further, but member states remain deeply split on this," said Markos Kyprianou, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection.

The regulation will enter into force by 2007. For more details, click here.