EU chiefs in live-exports summit

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The Independent Online
European Union farm ministers, facing growing public revulsion against cruelty to animals, will today try to bridge a deep divide over improved transport conditions, notably maximum journey times.

For the past 18 months, member states have been deadlocked over a maximum time limit for hauling sheep, calves and pigs across the continent for slaughter or fattening.

Animal rights activists here in Britain have disrupted live export shipments in a long and sometimes violent campaign.

And the radical European Farmers Co-ordination, a Brussels-based group, says refrigerated transport makes exports of live animals unnecessary.

France is seeking a "rational and effective" solution based on scientific data and the interests of slaughter houses, transporters and traders.

"Over 90 per cent is agreed," said the commission spokesman. But officials said discussions would still be long and difficult and likely to go on late into tomorrow evening.