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News Section Icon Published 03/10/2023

Today, Commission Executive Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič characterised the file with the revision of the animal welfare legislation as “difficult” when questioned by lawmakers in the European Parliament. In the midst of a coordinated political war to thwart the world’s biggest animal welfare revolution, Compassion in World Farming slammed this statement as a weak excuse for ignoring citizens and sitting on the legislative proposals, which are ready and waiting to be presented if the Commission gives the go-ahead. 

Face Of Sow In Barren Pen With Piglets Ciwfxiao Shibai

The hearing

During his 3-hour hearing, Vice-President Šefčovič stated that “work continues on …[the legislative proposals on] animal welfare… and the rest of the difficult files” (see 9:18). He said that he is “committed to this file”, highlighting that “more than 90% of the people in Europe want to see that we treat animals and nature better” yet he is working with other Commissioners on these “complex” files, pointing to the costs associated with the transition (see 10:05). He did mention that new standards for animal transport will soon be proposed, but we wonder whether this implies that other critical files, such as the promised end to caged farming, would be shelved. 

With former Commissioner Frans Timmermans having left for Dutch national politics, Vice-President Šefčovič is designated as the new Green Deal chief, which means he will also be responsible for overseeing the long-awaited proposal for new EU laws on animal welfare. 


Backslide on the commitments

Last month, media reports warned about a backslide on the Commission’s commitment to phase out cages for 300 million farmed pigs, egg-laying hens, rabbits, and other species every year, as well as other animal welfare measures in line with the science of the 21st century. The promised reform does not appear on the Commission’s agenda, nor on the Commission’s priorities for next year. Yesterday, the centre-left group Socialists & Democrats sent a letter, urging Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to present the proposal. 

What is "difficult"?

“The proposals for the animal welfare revolution are ready and the Commission is sitting on them," said Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU and substitute representative of the ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens’ Initiative.

"What is “difficult” for the Commission is not the technicalities of drafting the new laws, but the pressure they are getting from right-wing political groups and the factory farming lobbies," she continued.

"By catering to vested interests, the European Commission’s leadership is making very bad decisions. If this continues, we won’t be surprised if the chasm between the EU and citizens grows deeper, and that more voters will turn to anti-EU political parties during the elections next year. The Commission should pay attention to this and stop dragging its feet,” Olga concluded.


End the Cage Age

In the EU, every year about 300 million farmed animals still spend all or part of their lives in cages, pens or stalls, causing great suffering. Laying hens and rabbits, for example, are confined to spaces about the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Adult female pigs have to spend nearly half of every year inside crates, in which they cannot even turn around. 

The ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens' Initiative has an overwhelming support by the European Parliament, with eight out of ten Members of the European Parliament voting in favour of an end to caged farming. The Initiative is endorsed by over 170 organisations from across Europe, the European Committee of the Regions, scientists, representatives of the business community, organisations campaigning for environmental protection, health and farming, and veterinary organisations. 

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