21 November 2001
Retain export refunds, urges Fischler
By Philip Clarke, Europe editor
ABOLISHING export refunds on live cattle would not solve welfare problems associated with animal haulage, says EU farm minister, Franz Fischler.
A call to end these aids for animals going for slaughter outside the EU came from German farm minister, Renate Kunast, at the farm council in Brussels.
She maintained that cutting these subsidies would increase the pressure on hauliers and go down well with the World Trade Organisation in Geneva.
But Dr Fischler said this was no solution. I am convinced that the first goal should be to get our existing legislation fully operational, he said.
He pointed out that most of the animals exported live about 200,000 head a year were for breeding purposes anyway.
Just 100,000 head went for slaughter, almost entirely to the Lebanon, which wanted live cattle for cultural reasons.
If they could not get them from the EU, they would probably get them by boat from Australia, he said.
Dr Fischler refuted suggestions that refunds promoted live exports. The rate of refund granted for live cattle is substantially lower than that for carcasses.
He was supported by France, Spain and Ireland. What is at stake is not the welfare during transport, said French farm minister, Jean Glavany.
The problems arise from the situation in the importing countries.
Brussels has launched proposals for improving the standards of vehicles used to move animals and will next year initiate legislation on journey times.