SATELLITE NAVIGATION systems will have to be installed in all lorries involved in transporting farm animals over long distances under new rules agreed by EU farm ministers in Brussels this week.

The deal will also see the introduction of compulsory driver training, better equipment on lorries and stricter enforcement procedures.

EU farm council president Cees Veerman described the agreement as a “positive first step” towards improving welfare conditions for animals travelling more than eight hours within the EU.

But the two key areas of journey times and stocking rates had to be left unchanged within the new regulation, to appease southern member states who oppose any reductions.

Instead, the council has asked the European Commission to come up with a review of the new controls within four years of the law coming into force, which could include proposals to tighten up on journey times and stocking rates.

New EU food safety commissioner Markos Kyprianou indicated he would not wait the full four years before making proposals for further improvements. “My ambition would have been to reduce travelling times and stocking densities further,” he said of the agreement. But it was still “a significant shift towards treating animals in a more dignified manner”.

 Under the deal, satellite navigation systems will be fitted to new lorries from 2007, and all lorries from 2009, to help the authorities track vehicle movements. Ventilation systems, watering facilities and temperature controls will be upgraded.

 Drivers will have to have proper training and hold certificates of competence. They must respect new rules on loading and unloading and keep a detailed journey log.