Commission accepts ban on caged animals

A rabbit bred in France, Spain or Italy (these 3 countries concentrate 83% of the sector in Europe) has 600 cm2 of life. Or an A4 sheet. It cannot stand on two legs – which is natural for this species – and it cannot dig. Half of the laying hens in Europe are caged in sheds that can accommodate up to 70,000 birds. Part of the pig and calf herds are also not immune to this abused diet, which causes numerous health problems.

These are the conclusions denounced by the European Citizens’ Initiative”To the end of the cage age” (1.4 million signatures) which forced the European Commission to address the matter.

Brussels responds to citizens’ initiative

Stella Kyriakides and Vera Jourová (respectively European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety and Vice-President of the Commission), announced this Wednesday, June 30, 2021, by press release, their response to the citizens’ initiative “To the end of the cage age“. This is positive, as the Commission intends to “to present a legislative proposal by the end of 2023 for the phasing out and permanent ban on the use of cages for all species and categories of animals covered by the initiative”. The European Parliament had already voted on the matter on 10 June when it adopted a resolution asking the Commission to speak out in favor of banning cages across the EU by 2027. stating that animal welfare “remains a moral, health and economic imperative”.

The initiative behind this decision — launched in 2018 by the Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) association — was supported by over 100 NGOs and signed in 18 countries (Full PDF report: “A new cage-free era, why Europe should stop raising animals in cages”). The Vice-President of the European Commission Vera Jourova congratulated the organizers of this initiative for this extraordinary result“and entrusted to be”impressed with your professionalism and commitment to this cause“. The Commission also made it clear in its response that “a the gradual exit from these breeding practices would come into effect from 2027 and would be accompanied by measures to financially support breeders in this transition“. Half of the laying hens and 95% of the rabbits are worried. As for some ducks, geese, calves, quail and sows lactating in stables or newborn calves, they should also eventually stop being locked in cages.

Animal welfare and assistance to breeders

Improving animal welfare is now a consensus in most European countries, as well as in Parliament: the resolution to ban cages in the EU was voted on by an overwhelming majority of 558 votes in favour, 37 against and 85 abstentions. But if this shift in farming practices changes the lives of hundreds of millions of animals, it will not be without consequences for farmers and the European economy. That is why MEPs also validated the plan to ban the import of meat from animals raised in cages outside the Union.

The European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety further clarified in the press release that “theFarmers will be supported in their transition to ensure it is fair and economically viable.“A reorientation of aid from the common agricultural policy (CAP) will have to be carried out, according to Stella Kyriakides, so as not to “threaten the survival of farms”.

The commissioner also indicated that a socio-economic impact assessment would be carried out, as well as independent scientific research by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). It remains to be seen when these provisions will come into effect effectively. If the majority of the Union’s 27 member countries seem to want to pass this law in 2023, some Eastern countries, traditionally less concerned about this issue, may block it. And the unanimity of 27 members is required to pass such legislation.

The issue of animal welfare in Europe:

Some Member States did not expect the Commission act in favor of animal welfare:

So-called “equipped” cages for chickens are banned in Luxembourg and Austria. Germany has promised to do the same in 2025.

Gestation crates for sows are banned in the UK and Swedenand they are not only allowed for the four days after insemination in the Netherlands. In new swine facilities in Denmark, gestation crates for sows can only be used for 3 days. This ban will be generalized to all systems by 2035.

Farrowing cages are banned in Sweden and Denmark aims to raise 10% of its sows in farrowing cages by 2020.

the cages for Rabbits raised for their meat have been banned in Austria since 2012. Will not be it is no longer possible to keep rabbits in cages in Belgium until 2025. Conventional cages for rabbits were banned in the Netherlands in 2016 and will be banned in Germany in 2024

Franceas for her, occupies the 17th position in this ranking, with only 25% of farmed animals out of cages.

(Excerpt from CIWF report: “A new age without cages, why Europe must stop breeding animals in cages”)

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