European Parliament calls for the end of all animal cages in Europe by 2027

MEPs also want the European Commission to speed up its review of EU animal welfare legislation.
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By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

17 Jun 2021

MEPs have urged the European Commission to make cages for farmed animals illegal across the EU by 2027, adopting a resolution on the ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens’ Initiative.

The resolution, passed by an overwhelming majority, with 558 members in favour to 37 against, urges the Commission to revise the current EU directive on farmed animals to phase out cage systems.

Campaigners say that in the EU, at present, laying hens and rabbits are confined to spaces about the size of an "A4 sheet of paper”.

Adult female pigs must spend nearly half of every year inside crates, where they cannot turn around. Calves, geese and quail are also caged, preventing them from performing basic natural behaviours, it is claimed.

EU Parliamentarians agreed on the need to end these practices and to ensure that all products placed on the EU market - including imported ones -comply with future cage-free standards.

They stressed, in the resolution, the need to provide adequate incentives and financial programmes to support farmers through the transition.

The Commission was also urged to put forward proposals to ban the "cruel and unnecessary" force-feeding of ducks and geese to produce foie gras.

“The time has come now for politicians to put words into action. From today on, the ball is in the Commission’s court. We expect nothing short of an ambitious timetable for ending the use of these outdated torture instruments called cages. Once this happens, the EU could truly claim global leadership in animal welfare” Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU

MEPs also want the executive to speed up its review of the EU’s animal welfare legislation, asking for this to be completed by 2022 instead of late 2023 as currently planned.

This would help ensure that the ban is introduced within the mandate of the current Commission, which will leave office in 2024.

A total of 45 MEPs spoke on the issue in a debate attended by EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, who expressed her support for the ‘End the Cage Age’ Initiative.

She stated that the Commission’s commitment to improve the welfare of animals “does remain a moral, a health and an economic imperative.” “And for me, it is a personal commitment to strive for change.”

During an earlier Parliament hearing in April, EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski highlighted that the Commission promised to work intensively to end the “cage age.”

The Commission is expected to announce what steps it will take on the issue by 30 June.

Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU and one of the citizens leading the ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens’ Initiative, said, “Citizens have been waiting for years to see the cages ban materialise. We are delighted that Parliament has taken a firm stance against cages.”

“With this resolution we send an unequivocal message to the European Commission, which now needs to come forward with a legislative proposal to End the Cage Age and enable a transition to more humane, sustainable and healthier farming methods across the EU” Eleonora Evi, co-chair of the MEP working group on cage free farming

“The time has come now for politicians to put words into action. From today on, the ball is in the Commission’s court. We expect nothing short of an ambitious timetable for ending the use of these outdated torture instruments called cages. Once this happens, the EU could truly claim global leadership in animal welfare.”

Italian Greens/EFA MEP Eleonora Evi, co-chair of the MEP working group on cage free farming, said the vote “marks a historical day in the fight for a cage-free Europe. By adopting, with a large majority, a resolution calling for a phase-out of the use of cages in EU animal farming, the Parliament has brought the EU a step closer to finally ending the cruel practice of caged farming.”

“With this resolution we send an unequivocal message to the European Commission, which now needs to come forward with a legislative proposal to End the Cage Age and enable a transition to more humane, sustainable and healthier farming methods across the EU.”

Dutch GUE/NGL Group MEP Anja Hazekamp, co-chair of the same working group, added, "Hundreds of millions of animals are locked up in cages for farming purposes in Europe every year. They live under horrible conditions, without any chance to exercise their natural behaviour.”

“After the successful citizens' initiative, signed by 1.4 million citizens, Parliament now joins the widely supported call to free animals from their cages. A legislative proposal must now be put forward without delay. All animal cages in Europe must disappear at the latest by 2027."

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