Evidence suggests that to avoid the more onerous commercial rules (established under Council Directive 92/65/EEC) a rising number of transnational puppy sellers disguise their activity as the non-commercial movement of pet animals, which is covered by the less strict Regulation (EC) No 998/2003, and fail to even meet the requirements of this regulation. This includes the movement of puppies which are underage, have falsified documents and/or have not had the correct vaccinations. This illegal trade poses a risk to public and animal health as well as consumer protection. Although new legislation on the non-commercial movement of pets (Regulation (EU) No 576/2013) came into force on 29 December 2014, it will only introduce minor changes and is unlikely to solve the problem of lack of enforcement.
In their role as guardians of the treaties, the Commission and its services such as the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) are responsible for ensuring that EU legislation on animal health and welfare is properly implemented and enforced. How does the Commission plan to ensure the enforcement of Regulation (EU) No 576/2013 now that it has come into force, given the issues of enforcement with Regulation (EC) No 998/2003?
With respect to puppy smuggling and illegal trade in pet animals, the Commission would refer to its replies to the previous Written Questions E-004525/2008, E-003787/2009, E-006868/2010, E8449/2010, E-002270/2011, E-003343/2011, E-006602/2011, E-006808/2011, P-002142/2012, E004247/2012, E-007168/2012 and E-005475/2013. The Commission is aware that trade in and imports of dogs can be fraudulently disguised as noncommercial movement. To prevent such practices which might pose animal health risks the European Parliament and the Council have decided to include in Regulation (EU) No 576/2013 a stronger legal base for Member States’ controls of the cross-border movements of pet animals and to fix in that Regulation a maximum number of pet animals that may accompany their owner. However, Member States are responsible for the implementation of the EU legislation and the performance of official controls. The findings of the audits carried out by the Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office to verify compliance with EU legislation and the responses of the Member States to the recommendations contained therein can be consulted at the website of the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety. This website also hosts an overview report concerning audits performed between 2010 and 2012 on import controls carried out at import points other than border inspection posts, such as travellers’ points of entry for pet animals.