In November 2014, Dogs Trust published the findings of an undercover investigation into the illegal smuggling of puppies from eastern Europe into the UK for sale. The investigation revealed that commercial dealers in Lithuania and Hungary were aided and abetted by unscrupulous vets who were prepared to issue pet passports with falsified data. In its response to Written Question E-007133/2015 on this issue, the Commission stated that because Lithuania and Hungary had taken the appropriate measures to enforce proper implementation of EC law, the Commission has not envisaged any further measures to resolve compliance issues with EU legislation on pet movement.
A second investigation by Dogs Trust has now been published (in July 2015), and this time the investigators entered Romania and Lithuania. Again, evidence was found of breeders, dealers and vets exploiting EU legislation to illegally import puppies into the UK for commercial purposes.
Can the Commission detail the measures it intends to take as a result of this additional evidence to resolve compliance issues with Regulation (EU) No 576/2013?
Will measures be taken which apply across the Member States, rather than solely in Romania and Lithuania?
The Commission reiterates that Member States are responsible for the control and enforcement of Union legislation and are to lay down the rules on penalties applicable to infringements of this legislation.
The Commission considers that non-compliances and illegal activities should be tackled where they occur. Member States indeed usually act upon such findings.
The Commission believes that it is therefore important to increase awareness of official services about such activities that are by nature difficult to detect and recalls that one of the objectives of its ‘Better training for safer food’ courses on the movement of dogs and cats launched end of 2013 is to share best practices in tackling these illegal movements and intelligence with the authorities involved in Member States.
Nevertheless the Commission will put the issue on the agenda of a meeting of the relevant regulatory committee in the near future for a wider exchange of views.
Also, in the context of the EU animal welfare strategy 2012-2015 the Commission commissioned a study on cats and dogs involved in commercial practices. The study is in the process of finalisation and will subsequently be published on the website of the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety.