Search icon

Press Release Section Icon 27/06/2024

Press Release

27 June 2024

Several major European NGOs will today (27 June) ask the European Court of Justice to allow them to join the landmark End the Cage Age (EtCA) legal action against the European Commission.

The NGOs – which include The ECI Campaign, Eurogroup for Animals, foodwatch International and Animal Equality – will ask to become interveners in the action arguing that they are directly impacted by the Commission’s failure to deliver its promise to ban caged animal farming.

If accepted by the Court as an intervener, each NGO will present arguments showing how the Commission’s failure to deliver legislative proposals for a cage ban by the end of 2023 has a direct impact on their interests.

In 2021, the Commission made a legally-binding commitment to introduce legislative proposals for an EU ban on caged farming before the end of 2023. This followed the successful EtCA ECI campaign, led by Compassion in World Farming and supported by 170 European NGOs from across the EU, and which secured the signatures of more than 1.4 million EU citizens.

Launched by the Citizens’ Committee of the EtCA ECI in March, this legal case - funded by Compassion - is the first to hold the Commission to account over its failure to act on an ECI that it has committed to deliver. If successful, the Commission would be compelled by the Court to establish a clear and reasonable timescale to bring forward the legislative proposals, and to grant access to its file on the EtCA ECI.

Annamaria Pisapia, Head of Compassion in World Farming Italy and spokesperson for the Citizens’ Committee of the EtCA ECI, said: “The European Commission must deliver on its legally binding commitment to ban caged animal farming. Its failure to do so not only impacts around 300 million farmed animals suffering every year in cages, it damages our environment and makes a mockery of the ECI as a democratic tool for EU citizens, especially for the 1.4 million who signed it. We are thrilled these NGOs are backing the End the Cage Age legal action to hold the European Commission to account. It shows how a cage ban matters from so many points of view. We will not rest until the Commission delivers on its promise and every cage is an empty cage.”

An overwhelming 89% of EU citizens* believe animals should not be farmed in individual cages and the European Food Safety Authority has backed the phasing out of cages on welfare grounds for pigs, dairy calves, laying hens, ducks, quail and rabbits.

Across the EU, around 300 million pigs, hens, rabbits, ducks, quail and geese spend most of their lives in cages every year. Laying hens and rabbits are confined to barren cages about the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Sows are forced to nurse their piglets in crates so small they can’t even turn around. Ducks and geese are caged for force feeding to produce foie gras.

Matteo Cupi, Vice President of Animal Equality Europe, said: “Animal Equality has documented the extreme suffering and degradation that farmed animals endure in cages worldwide. To end this shameful practice in the European Union, it helped gather thousands of signatures for the "End The Cage Age" ECI. Now, European institutions must uphold their promises for a better Europe for animals and take action. Therefore, Animal Equality formally requests the European Court of Justice to allow us to join the "End the Cage Age" legal action against the European Commission.”

Reineke Hameleers, CEO of Eurogroup for Animals, said: “EU citizens have made use of the democratic tool at their disposal - they want these millions of animals out of cages. There is no argument against ending animal suffering. Yet with the Commission’s silence on the issue, we do question the very democratic purpose of the ECI.”

Carsten Berg, Director of The ECI Campaign, said: “It's not only the fate of animals that hangs in the balance here, it's also the fate of the ECI, and with it, the fate of EU democracy. Never before has an EU participation instrument resulted in significant EU policy change. The Commission's promise in response to this ECI was unique in that respect. It's highly regrettable that it seems to require intervention by the Court to hold the Commission to its own promise, but if that is what it takes, we are here for it."

Jörg Rohwedder, Executive Director of foodwatch International, said: “The suffering of millions of farmed animals makes the failure of EU agricultural policy very clear. foodwatch has actively supported the End the Cage Age ECI from the very beginning – as a watchdog organisation, we are not giving up until the very end. Ignoring 1.4 million European consumers calling for a ban on cages and not sticking to the promised timeline is unacceptable. Consumers don’t want to buy products from caged animals! ECI’s like this are important tools to ensure a participatory process and make sure that consumers are heard. We won’t let it go.”

Supporters are being urged to back the legal action by sharing posts about the case on social media tagging the European Commission (@EU_Commission).


Notes to editors

  • The End the Cage Age ECI is the first ECI to ever secure a proper commitment by the European Commission.
  • The Citizens’ Committee of the ECI End the Cage Age consists of: Olga Kikou, of Greece; Malgorzata Szadkowska of Poland; Leopoldine Charbonneaux of France; Romana Sonkova of Czechia; Geert Laugs of the Netherlands; Annamaria Pisapia of Italy; and Mahi Klosterhalfen of Germany.
  • * Eurobarometer survey 2023

You are using an outdated browser which we do not support. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.

If you have any further questions regarding this, or any other matter, please get in touch with us at We aim to respond to all queries within two working days. However, due to the high volume of correspondence that we receive, it may occasionally take a little longer. Please do bear with us if this is the case. Alternatively, if your query is urgent, you can contact our Supporter Engagement Team on +44 (0)1483 521 953 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).