Eurogroup for Animals is calling for the closure of the Bulgarian border inspection point, Kapitan Andreevo, until proper facilities have been built to treat suffering animals.
Turkey is a major importing country for EU livestock, hundreds of thousands of live animals are exported from the European Union to Turkey through this border inspection point each year, before reaching the checkpoint of Kapikule, 5km away on the Turkish side.
Export of live animals to third countries has always been a major source of animal suffering. Inadequate feed, water and shelter can lead to discomfort, collapse, and even death. Animals are exposed to extreme temperatures for long periods during the summer and winter months.
In an investigation that lasted 5 years, Eyes on Animals and Tierschutzbund Zurich/Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF/TSB) reported on a total of 352 animal transports from 13 different EU countries to Third Countries through the EU/Turkey border. 70% of the inspected trucks (247 out of 352) were found to be ‘not compliant’ with Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005.
Until April 2016, irregular trucks and animals found to be suffering at Kapitan Andreevo were sent to the Bulgarian control post of Royal Haskovo, an hour’s drive north-west of the border inspection point. However, since an outbreak of Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) in April, Haskovo has been listed by the European Commission as a ‘restricted zone’ and the control post has not been accessible. Poor welfare is common and no other control posts are available. Official Vets have nowhere they can send unfit animals and so suffering animals are being routinely exported from the EU to Turkey, in breach of Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005, on the protection of animals during transport.
Article 23 of this Regulation provides several emergency measures that Competent Authorities can apply in case of non-compliance and animal suffering. But due to the Lumpy Skin Disease outbreak in Bulgaria animals cannot be unloaded, they cannot be sent back to their places of departure, and they cannot be slaughtered or euthanized because this measure would affect too many animals.
In the absence of alternatives, official veterinarians are forced to allow suffering animals to continue their journey in conditions that severely infringe the Council Regulation 1/2005. This “emergency measure” has become the norm, as opposed to the exception, which is absolutely appalling. Furthermore there are no control posts in Turkey where animals can be unloaded and rested for 24 hours once the maximum transport time is reached, breaching recent Court of Justice jurisprudence on the issue .
Compelling evidence shows that infringements of European legislation on animal welfare during transport are occurring on regular basis at the border inspection point, Kapitan Andreevo. Eurogroup for Animals believes the temporary closure of this border inspection point is essential to stop the atrocious suffering and comply with the EU’s values and legal standards. Kapitan Andreevo should remain closed for live export of farm animals until proper facilities, equipped to assist all animals exported to Turkey, are built and ready for use.