On 8 October 2019, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), public interest organisations and EU citizens urged the European Commission, from the shadow of its headquarters, to respond to the biggest ever concerted effort to improve the welfare of farmed animals across Europe.
This rally celebrated the record-breaking “End the Cage Age” European Citizens’ Initiative – a direct democracy tool that requires the European Commission to respond to its call. Subject to validation, the Initiative has surpassed the minimum threshold required by EU law in 21 EU Member States – a first in the history of European Citizens’ Initiatives! This direct democracy tool has also collected over 1.6 million signatures!
In Europe, more than 300 hundred million animals spend their entire lives in cages - confined, restricted and thwarted from carrying out their natural behaviours. Cages are cruel and completely unnecessary. The “End the Cage Age” European Citizens' Initiative calls on the European Commission to propose a ban on cages for animals such as hens, pullets, sows, calves, ducks, geese, quail and rabbits.
During the event, some representatives of the 170 NGOs in the network, citizens and MEPs symbolically flexed their muscles, calling on the European Commission to act. The organisers brought along an 18-meter circular banner placed in the middle of the Schuman roundabout and a 10-meter sculpture of a pig jumping to freedom.
“Today, despite the rain, NGOs, MEPs and citizens gathered together in the heart of the EU quarter to give voice to the hundreds of millions of animals, silently suffering in cages across the EU for most, or all, of their lives,” said Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU. “We call on the new Commissioners to treat animals as sentient beings, not just as commodities that bring in cash for the select few. Let’s make Europe a true leader in animal welfare – not just in words but in reality. Let’s ban this torture instrument once and for all!”
“Look at where we are now,” said MEP Eleonora Evi (Italy, NI), Co-Chair of the Cage-Free Working Group and Vice-President of the Animal Welfare Intergroup in the European Parliament. “One year to collect 1.6 million signatures. And we made it! We made it across Europe and across parties. Nobody has a magic wand to put an end here and now to this cruelty but we can do it. And if we CAN do it, we MUST do it!”
“You cannot see them, you cannot hear them, locked up behind bars and confined in cages way too small. That is animal abuse,” said MEP Anja Hazekamp (Netherlands, GUE/NGL), Co-Chair of the Cage-Free Working Group and President of the Animal Welfare Intergroup in the European Parliament. “These animals have no chance to develop normally, they don't have a chance to exercise their natural behaviours. That is torture!”
To watch the full videos of all the MEP speakers, see below:
- MEP Eleonora Evi (Italy, NI)
- MEP Anja Hazekamp (Netherlands, GUE/NGL)
- MEP Tilly Metz (Luxembourg, Greens/EFA)
- MEP Sylwia Spurek (Poland, S&D)
- MEP Manuel Bompard (France, GUE/NGL)
- MEP Martin Hojsík (Slovakia, Renew Europe)
- MEP Klaus Buchner (Germany, Greens/EFA)
- Stefan Eck (former MEP from Germany, GUE/NGL)
- MEP Marie Toussaint (France, Greens/EFA)
- MEP Catherine Rowett (UK, Greens/EFA)