An investigation into live animal exports from EU countries into Turkey has revealed systematic breaches of basic animal welfare laws. 70% of transporters inspected over five years were breaking at least one EU regulation.

The investigation, carried out by Eyes on Animals, Animal Welfare Foundation, and Tierschutzbund Zürich, supported by Compassion in World Farming; uncovered animals left in overloaded, crowded trucks, in temperatures of up to 41.5°C, with no adequate supply of water, often for days at a time. In one case, animals were left suffering on the trucks for seven days. Leaving animals on board for such lengths of time is against the law, yet it is commonplace at the border.

A total of 352 transporters were inspected at the Turkish border, 247 of which were found to have committed one or several infringements against EU animal transport regulations. In some cases, dying or birthing animals were left unattended to, and dead animals were left on board amongst the living.

Despite evidence of these infringements repeatedly being brought to the attention of the authorities over the course of five years, no action was taken to improve the conditions for these animals.

Lesley Moffat, inspector from Eyes on Animals, says: “After crossing the border, the EU does not have the competence to check the animal trucks and to sanction violators in the case of infractions. The EU sits on the side-line as if completely powerless, but in reality the EU could stop this trade.”

900,000 sheep, 850,000 cattle and 5,000 goats were exported from the EU to Turkey in the period from 2010 to 2015, and this is expected to increase in 2016. The trade exists to relieve the EU’s domestic farm-animal market from unwanted surplus in order to keep prices stable. After years of negotiations, the EU convinced Turkey to start buying EU animals in 2010.

In 2015, the European Court of Justice ruled that the EU animal transport regulation 1/2005, which lays down maximum journey times for animal transport and other protection measures, has to be obeyed by transporters from the place of departure until the place of final destination, even if it is located in a non-EU country.

Iris Baumgärtner, inspector from TSB|AWF, says: “This transport practice is not only a systematic violation against EU animal transport regulation 1/2005, but also against Article 13 of the Treaty of Lisbon, according to which the welfare requirements of animals as sentient beings are to be fully respected.”

A 1000-page dossier compiles evidence of maximum journey-time violations, unrealistic time planning, false declarations regarding rest stops, extreme temperatures, lack of supply of water and feed, overloading, insufficient headroom, filthy conditions and insufficiently trained drivers. The dossier will be handed to EU authorities and politicians in a bid to put an end to the trade.

The coalition of animal welfare organisations state: “We call for a ban on long-distance animal transport from the EU to Turkey. Neither the EU Commission, the Member States, the Turkish authorities, nor the exporters and importers are willing to ensure that such transports are carried out in conformity with the law. It is a trade that is being conducted illegally, and we do not believe authorities are capable of enforcing the regulations. As such the trade must be stopped.”



Click here to see a five minute clip-reel showing just some of the horrors from these investigations. (click on ‘original file’ to download)

Compassion in World Farming was founded in 1967 by a British dairy farmer who became horrified at the development of intensive factory farming. Today Compassion is the leading farm animal welfare organisation dedicated to ending factory farming and achieving humane and sustainable food. With headquarters in the UK, we have offices across Europe in the US, China and South Africa.




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