Bulgaria | Kapitan Andreevo | Inspection of EU-Live Exports to Turkey | Investigation Days 1–5
Investigation Day 1 – 30. June 2021
Today, our team arrives in the Bulgarian village Kapitan Andreevo. The village is located on the EU's external border with Turkey. During our investigation the temperatures are supposed to rise above 30°C. According to the EU regulation 1/2005 it is forbidden to transport animals in extreme weather. Our teams will be at the border to verify whether exporters from the EU are following or violating the regulation.
We immediately notice that a new parking lot has been built on the Bulgarian side of the border since our last investigation in 2020. Normally, live transports are stuck in huge traffic jams approaching the border. Now normal cargo trucks can stay in the parking lot until they are called for inspection to enter the border. We are told by one driver that they must pay a fee per truck and when it is their turn to enter the border, they will be informed by a technology system.
Since we do not observe any live transports entering the border, we decide to inspect the control post in Svilengrad. There, the animals must be unloaded, watered and fed. Moreover, a veterinarian needs to inspect whether the animals are fit for transport before leaving the EU. But also in the control post the stables are empty and there are no waiting trucks with animals on board. Our team will continue tomorrow with their work.
Investigation Day 2 - 1 July 2021
On our second investigation day, our team is on the lookout for live transports at the border. Since we observe no trucks, our team decides to inspect the control post in Svilengrad once again for animal trucks. But also today, it is empty.
Investigation Day 3 - 2 July 2021
On investigation day three, we are inspecting another control post in the region of Haskovo. It seems to be closed now and is now used by a private owner. Afterwards, our team returns to the control post in Svilengrad together with MEP Thomas Waitz. Still there are no trucks waiting inside. Our team will be back in the morning to monitor the situation.
Investigation Day 4 - 3 July 2021
Our team is inspecting another control post near the Bulgarian-Turkish border in Generalovo today. The control post seems to be closed. Many of the buildings are demolished. However, one stable is still intact and could be used as a resting stable. The road leading up to the control post, however, is in a poor condition and could cause problems for livestock trucks.
Next, we are going to the veterinary office directly at the Bulgarian border. Our plan is to gather more information about the trade with live animals with Turkey. However, the veterinarians refuse to speak to us and do not even want to give any information to MEP Thomas Waitz who is accompanying our team. Just after we exited the veterinary office, we spot a live transport from Estonia loaded with bulls in the parking lot and start to inspect it. The bedding was adequate, and the water is turned on. However, the bowls are full of manure and straw which makes it hard for the animals to drink. With 67 animals on board, the truck is overcrowded. This is an infringement of the EU regulation 1/2005 since too little available space does not allow the animals to lie down and rest. Moreover, high loading density makes it impossible for all animals to reach the water throughs and can lead to fights and injuries. We get a chance to talk to the driver and he complains that the priority line for live animals at the border is always closed. Therefore, trucks with live animals must use the other lines together with all the normal cargo truck crossing the border. This can be detrimental to their welfare since the health and welfare risks for the animals rise with the transport duration.
Next, our team tries to enter the control post in Svilengrad. However, here again we are refused to enter. We get a chance to speak to the assistant manager of the control post and she tells us that they have seen a decrease in the number of live transports since 2019.
Investigation Day 5 - 4 July 2021
We received the information that four trucks will be crossing the border. Since we do not know when they will arrive, our team decides to do a night shift. At 5:30 am we are spotting a truck with Czech animals and immediately inform our second team on the Turkish side of the border. Afterwards, we are driving to the control post in Svilengrad again and spot another truck behind the manager’s office.
A couple of hours, our team returns to the control post. However, we only find empty trucks – a sign that the EU truck drivers are returning home after unloading the animals in Turkey. We continue to observe the road until 6 pm. Later we spot a convoy of four trucks with pregnant heifers on board just before they enter the control post. We inform our team on the Turkish side of the border about the convoy. They will be inspecting the trucks tomorrow.