On June 30th, the EU Commission published its decision to revise legislation around caged farming in the European Union, following the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “End the cage age”.
Written by Sophia Stille // 29.07.2021
The Cage Age
According to a report of the organisation “Compassion in World Farming”, there are about 300 million animals in the EU that are held in cages each year. With this method of farming, animal welfare cannot be ensured and many animals are clearly suffering. Now, the European Commission has answered a citizens’ initiative which showed that many people want to act for higher standards in animal welfare.
In September 2018, the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “End the cage age” was launched by “Compassion in World Farming”. The ECI is a mechanism for EU citizens to get involved in EU policy-making. For an initiative to be successful, the organisers need to collect 1 million signatures from citizens of at least 7 different EU countries.
Over the course of one year, many scientists, companies and more than 170 NGOs supported the ECI, aiming at a phase out of caged farming in the European Union. They succeeded in collecting almost 1.4 million signatures, by emphasising the need for a prohibition of cages for farmed rabbits, pullets, broiler breeders, quail, ducks and geese. Furthermore, the organisers demand a prohibition of farrowing crates for sows and sow stalls, as well as a prohibition of enclosed calf pens.
The EU Commission now published its response, deciding to commit to:
- drafting a legislative proposal by the end of 2023 to phase out and eventually prohibit the use of cages for farmed animals
- phasing out cages for farmed animals across the EU by 2027
- ensuring that all products imported into the EU comply with these cage-free standards
- implementing mechanisms of support and incentives for EU-farmers during the transition period
This can be considered a milestone in changes of EU agricultural policy and animal welfare! The initiative was the 6th ECI to be successful and the first one broaching the topic of animal welfare.
The report by the initiators of the ECI also revealed that 94% of the European public believes that animals should be protected and 82% thinks that farm animals should be better protected. This is supported by the fact that voices promoting cage-free farming have recently become louder and some states have already taken action. In order to increase animal welfare EU-wide, changes in agricultural policies are inevitable.
What the new announcements by the Commission actually mean is yet to be observed. The legislative proposal is expected by the end of 2023 and will be part of the new animal welfare legislation. So far, the Commission speaks about introducing cage-free systems and support for farmers with investments to upgrade current facilities. However, it will require lengthy discussions with many stakeholders in order to reach a solution that actually increases the life-quality of farm animals in Europe.
While this decision by the European Commission is already monumental, the work to end caged farming in the EU is not yet done. Now is the time to monitor the next steps of the Commission to make sure that an effective legislative proposal will follow the promised changes.
Our Only Home will update you about further developments. If you want to support the initiative, spread the word and sign up for the “End the cage age” newsletter. For additional information, visit their website or news published by the European Commission.