We have read the response of European Health Commissioner Tonio Borg (The Sunday Times, March 10) to our open letter to Maltese voters circulated last week. We are surprised to see that, while a spokesperson for the Commissioner argues that “it is not correct to state that the Commission is ignoring this issue”, the response has clearly been issued without even reading our open letter properly – or, for that matter, the correspondence we have been sending to the Commissioner since he was appointed.

We have repeatedly stated – and reiterated once more in the open letter – that “different journey times might be adopted for different species, and other details should be discussed within the framework of a new piece of legislation, but Dr Borg is simply opposing this opportunity to shield millions of animals from easily avoidable suffering”.

In their reply, Dr Borg’s office says that “the Commission is not aware of any scientific basis for such a limit [eight hours] whether with regards to animals travelling to slaughter or otherwise and regardless of the animal species involved”.

Could Dr Borg please find the time to read our letters? If he were to do so, perhaps he would stop issuing embarrassing statements like the one above, and start doing something real to stop animal suffering in long-distance transport.

The only ‘concrete actions’ mentioned in the Commission’s messages are a request to the EU member states “for more uniform reporting on their animal transportation controls” and the preparation of a proposal aimed at receiving that kind of information.

Countless animals are suffering daily on European roads, and that is the Commissioner’s only response? What is the ‘scientific evidence’ produced by the Commissioner to say that animals can travel for entire days on European roads only to be slaughtered on arrival without suffering?

The economic interests of a few people who profit from this practice cannot be defined as ‘scientific evidence’. Once again, Dr Borg is showing that neither animal suffering nor the demands of 1,100,000 European citizens are a priority in his agenda. This must change.

Regrettably, none of the ‘8hours’ representatives were invited to attend the “stakeholders’ debate held in Brussels in February setting the ground for an animal welfare framework law”, mentioned by the Commissioner’s spokesman in the interview.

Whom did the Commissioner invite, in order to avoid having his statements on live animal transport challenged by well-substantiated evidence?

We reaffirm our interest in cooperating with Commissioner Borg if he decides to start doing something real to prevent the further suffering of animals transported in Europe.

When will the Commissioner begin to take this matter seriously?

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