June 15, 2021
Use of cage units in EU egg production to end by 2027
The European Union will put to end the use of all cage units in egg production following an overwhelming vote by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).
Battery cages were banned by the bloc in 2012, which forced egg producers using cages to switch to the enriched colony cage system.
Now European politicians are looking to phase out cages completely by 2027.
A vote was taken in the European Parliament after 1.4 million people called for an "end to the cage age."
The resolution was passed with the support of 558 votes. Only 37 MEPs voted against with 85 abstaining.
The "end the cage age" initiative was co-ordinated by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) and other animal welfare organisations across the EU.
Campaigners called for a law to ban the use of cages for laying hens, rabbits, pullets, broiler breeders; farrowing crates for sows; sow stalls, where not already prohibited; and individual calf pens, where not already prohibited.
MEPs raised the importance of listening and acting on citizens' concerns on animal welfare, although many insisted that any potential phase-out of cages required proper financial support, incentives and an adequate transition period.
They also called for strict and efficient measures to avoid imports of cheaper products with lower animal welfare standards from non-EU countries.
A draft resolution was subsequently produced by the Agriculture Committee calling on the EU Commission to come up with legislative proposals to ban caged farming in the EU, possibly by 2027.
The gradual end of the use of cages should be based on a species-by-species approach that would take into account the characteristics of different animals, said the resolution.
Before any legislative changes were made, proper support was needed, including adequate advisory and training services, incentives and financial programmes for farmers and livestock breeders, said the Agriculture Committee.
Additionally, all animal products imported into the EU should be produced in full compliance with EU legislation, including the use of cage-free farming systems, it said.
This proposal has now been debated and passed by the European Parliament.
During the debate, Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: "We acknowledge the demand for sustainable food systems, the ethical dimensions around farming animals and the need to find solutions that involve farmers but also society at large.
"Our promise under the Farm to Fork Strategy to undertake a thorough review of existing EU animal welfare legislation will be delivered into action."
- Farming UK